An independent legal counsel will investigate allegations made against suspended MEC for community safety, Albert Fritz, to determine the “veracity” of the claims that resulted in him stepping down as the Democratic Alliance’s interim leader of the Western Cape.
“Due to the serious nature of the allegations, it is my belief that an independent legal expert with relevant experience is best placed to investigate these allegations,” Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said in a statement.
Winde did not rule out laying criminal charges against Fritz, depending on the outcome of the investigation.
“It has been my request that the investigation be finalised as quickly as possible. I can confirm that, in the interest of transparency, I will release further details on this matter once the external investigator has been appointed, and after consultation with him/her as to what can be mentioned, given the requests of the complainants involved,” his statement read.
He again did not elaborate on the nature of the allegations, but Fritz’s conduct reportedly relates to alleged sexual harassment. The DA has not yet publicly confirmed this.
Winde’s latest statement came after opposition parties in the Western Cape questioned the transparency in his handling of the matter.
The Mail & Guardian reported earlier on Tuesday that the Good Party’s Brett Herron had pounced on Winde’s initial statement released on Sunday, describing it as “cryptic” and “lacking detail”.
“The premier owes it to the people of the Western Cape to explain the announcement and to provide some basis for the suspension,” Herron said.
In the latest statement, Winde outlined the steps he had taken since being informed of the allegations from a third party on 23 November last year. According to Winde, he “immediately requested affidavits from the persons directly involved”. Since then, more complainants have come to the fore.
Winde said he had met the complainants 11 days ago and, after legal advice, felt he had sufficient information “to immediately suspend [Fritz] and request an independent investigation into this matter.”Details on the identity of the independent legal counsel will be made public when confirmation from the state attorney is received.