South Africa

Sexual assault charges: Fransman ready to face the music?

By Marianne Thamm 15 June 2016

From initially dismissing his accuser as a honey trap and a set-up, ANC Western Cape Provincial Chairman Marius Fransman intimated through his lawyer on Monday that he would be willing to face charges “sooner rather than later”. The announcement was prompted by the publication in Daily Maverick of a series of revealing WhatsApp messages sent by Fransman to a young Stellenbosch woman, Louisa Wynand, a few days before he allegedly sexually assaulted her en route to the ANC’s 104th celebrations in Rustenberg in January. By MARIANNE THAMM.

Speaking to Power FM’s Thabiso TT Tema on Monday, NPA spokesperson, Advocate Luvuyo Mfaku, sketched a baffling and Kafkaesque bureaucratic “jurisdictional” nightmare which he claimed had led to the five-month delay in charges of sexual assault against ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman bouncing between provincial borders, rendering him a free man in North West province and a possible accused in the Northern Cape.

On Monday Daily Maverick published a series of revealing WhatsApps that Fransman, a married father of two, had allegedly sent to the young Stellenbosch woman days before offering her a rather vague job and inviting her to accompany him and two colleagues on a road trip to Rustenberg to attend the ANC’s 104th birthday celebrations.

Since she first lodged the case at the Sun City police station on 4 January after Fransman had allegedly sexually assaulted her in Kimberley the previous day, Louisa Wynand had been waiting anxiously for the investigating officer, Colonel Madotha, to collect evidence in the matter. She had sent several messages to the colonel asking when he would be forwarding an e-mail address.

On 20 May Colonel Madotha sent a WhatsApp message to Wynand to inform her that the DPP in North West had decided that there was insufficient evidence to successfully charge Fransman and that the charges had been dropped.

What the NPA’s Advocate Mfaku tried unsuccessfully to explain to Tema on air on Monday is that Colonel Madotha, like a cop trapped in a scene from the Danish crime series The Bridge where a body is found on the border of two countries, was only able to investigate whatever alleged crime had taken place on his turf.

What Mfaku didn’t explain is why, if indeed there were two parallel processes, the case only found its way to the Northern Cape on 27 May, almost five months after the complaint had been made and why also it had taken Colonel Madotha so long to inform Wynand that the charges would be dropped. We don’t want to speculate that it might have been because a very, very senior member of the ANC, who is close to President Zuma, was involved.

Mfaku claimed that the WhatsApp messages forwarded to the NPA by the Daily Maverick last week were, technically speaking, not “new” evidence. While this is true, it is evidence that had not been collected or considered so in that sense it is new to the new investigating officer, but we don’t want to split hairs.

The apparent jurisdictional obstacle facing Colonel Madotha and the DPP in North West were the blinkers that only allowed them to apparently investigate allegations that had occurred on their turf. And in this case that happened to be the Raj Indian Cuisine Hotel in the Sun City Resort where Fransman had allegedly embraced Wynand from behind and had kissed her neck despite her repeated protestations.

This occurred the day after he had allegedly sexually assaulted her in a budget hotel in Kimberley where she had allegedly been forced to share a bed with the ANC leader.

Wynand told Daily Maverick that it was when Fransman had allegedly continued to harass her in the restaurant that she understood that her only option was to flee from the ANC leader and other officials who had accompanied him to the eatery.

Wynand’s ordeal continued in the Sun City police station where she attempted to explain to apparently indifferent officers what had happened to her over two days. She eventually fled the charge office, escaping through a back window assisted by a female SAPS clerk who had taken pity on her.

On Monday Marius Fransman’s lawyer, Mushtak Parker, said in a statement that having “perused” the Daily Maverick feature “we are still of the view that decision taken by the DPP North West Province, not to prosecute our client, was correct and also believe that a similar decision would in due course be taken by the DPP in the Northern Cape.”

Parker added that while not wanting to comment on the pending process in the Northern Cape, “we find it perplexing that a different decision could be possible after the DPP North West Province had come to the decision not to prosecute due to insufficient evidence after consultations with the complainant”.

Um… well, the DPP in North West failed to collect evidence from the complainant and various other witnesses so it stands to reason that the DPP in the Northern Cape might arrive at a different decision, now that is in possession of it.

But we leave that to the experts. For now.

Mr Parker said that should the DPP Northern Cape decide to prosecute Fransman, “it would be in the best interest of all concerned, and in particular our client, that the prosecution happens sooner rather than later as Mr Fransman’s life (and obviously that of the complainant) has been very adversely affected by these events and closure is as necessary for him as it is for the complainant”.

There are several witnesses who have said they are willing to testify in the case. Fransman’s travelling companions will no doubt also provide statements as they were the only witnesses to what occurred in the vehicle en route to Rustenberg. It will be their word against Wynand’s.

Police will have to be thorough in their investigation and include all evidence including the WhatsApp messages and hopefully hotel records that can either prove or disprove allegations of how many rooms were booked and in whose name.

Detective Columbo 101.

Meanwhile Daily Maverick has learnt that Wynand was allegedly offered a full bursary to study at any university in South Africa after she had been flown to Gauteng to testify before the ANC’s Integrity Commission, which has not made any announcement or ruling yet on the Fransman matter. The name of the member who allegedly offered the bursary is known to Daily Maverick. Confirmation of the offer is yet to be made. DM

Photo: ANC Western Cape Provincial Chairman Marius Fransman, then International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister announces the breakthrough in the case of Prof Cyril Karabus during a media briefing held in Cape Town. 19 March 2013. (Photo: GCIS)


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