Winde: We won't rule out possibility of criminal charges against Fritz

The provincial government has still not revealed the nature of the misconduct allegations against Albert Fritz, but they have indicated these could qualify for a criminal charge.

FILE: Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz. Picture: Albert Fritz/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has not ruled out the possibility of criminal charges against Albert Fritz.

Fritz has been placed on suspension as Community Safety MEC , while officials investigate serious misconduct allegations against him.

Four other community safety officials have also been suspended.

The provincial government has still not revealed the nature of the misconduct allegations against Fritz, but they have indicated these could qualify for a criminal charge.

"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 and determine their veracity," Premier Winde said in a statement on Tuesday.

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He has revealed the accusations first arose in November: "Initial allegations related to this matter were first brought to my attention by a third party informally on 23 November 2021. I immediately requested affidavits from the persons directly involved so that I could take action. Since that date, I have ensured that the complainants were afforded due care and empathy and that no pressure was placed on them, noting the nature of their complaints.

Earlier this month, complainants submitted formal affidavits.

Winde said since then, he's been assured those who came forward have been treated with empathy and care.

"Following my meeting with the complainants, and after receiving legal advice, I felt I had sufficient information to immediately suspend the Minister and request an independent investigation into this matter."

The premier has slammed those seeking to publish the names of the whistleblowers, saying they would not hesitate to take action as anonymity had been guaranteed to the complainants.

"These complainants have brought these allegations to me under the strictest of confidence. To publish their names, against their will, will only add to the very serious stress and anxiety that they are feeling now, and possibly, deter others from coming forward in similar cases in future," Winde added.

The Western Cape's legal service unit has now approached the State Attorney for intervention.

Meanwhile, the Public Servants Association (PSA) on Tuesday said no formal complaints had been received, relating to misconduct allegations against Fritz.

However, it's believed several interns stationed within his department have been sent home.

Aside from the suspended government officials, the PSA's Aileen Mosetic said they believed several complaints were involved in the case.

“Our shop steward has been approached and been made aware that there are these allegations. It doesn’t seem that any of them are members of the PSA per say and that might be they are interns.”

Mosetic said an unconfirmed number of those complainants had been sent home.

“I understand that the interns who were working in the area have been sent home.”