South Africa

Marius Fransman: Sex, Lies, WhatsApps and the truth behind The Bursary

By Marianne Thamm 20 June 2016

It was a member of the ANC’s Integrity Committee (IC) who, in her personal capacity, offered to help Louisa Wynand, the young woman who has accused ANC Western Cape Provincial leader Marius Fransman of sexually assaulting her, to apply for a bursary to further her studies. The ANC member approached Fransman’s accuser after she had given tearful testimony to the committee in April. By MARIANNE THAMM.

Your CV is good for a young person. I am pleased that you had already been accepted at Stellenbosch University, so admission should not be a problem. Education is definitely the only path. I am trying a few avenues for scholarships, without promising anything. We can but try… Keep your spirits up,” reads an e-mail from the member of the ANC Integrity Committee (whose identity is known to the Daily Maverick) to Louisa Wynand on 6 April.

The member on Sunday told Daily Maverick that while her offer to help Wynand apply for bursaries could be read by some as nefarious or an attempt at influencing the complainant, this had never been her intention.

I responded more out of genuine concern and because I value education,” the committee member told Daily Maverick while acknowledging in retrospect that she had made “an error of judgement”.

Daily Maverick has seen the chain of communication – e-mails and WhatsApps – between the IC member and Wynand and none of these suggest that Fransman’s young accuser withdraw the charges or suspend her complaint. The tone is parental and concerned rather than coercive. The IC member appears to be the only link Wynand has to anyone in authority who is willing to communicate with and contain as well as help her.

The communication also inadvertently reveals the shockingly unprofessional conduct of police after Wynand had returned to North West in April accompanied by her lawyer, for interviews with the investigating officer, Colonel Madoda. This is the same Colonel Madoda who informed Wynand by WhatsApp a month later that charges against Fransman had been withdrawn by the Director of Public Prosecution in North West due to “insufficient evidence”.

By then the DPP in North West had not bothered to collect a single shred of evidence, including a string of suggestive and inappropriate WhatsApps Fransman had sent to Wynand prior to their departure from Cape Town to attend the ANC’s 104th anniversary celebrations in Rustenburg in January.

Communicating with the IC member, Wynand writes, “They didn’t want to take the evidence I have, they kept saying they will let me know when they need it and the dpp didn’t even take a full statement.”

The IC member replies that she is “sorry to hear that… After all you have been through”.

Wynand then explains that she has been stranded at OR Tambo International after missing her flight back home because Colonel Madoda had driven too slowly between Sun City and Johannesburg.

I asked him about what to do, he said he doesn’t know and can’t help me now I am stranded at the airport again,” the 20-year-old wrote.

The IC member directs Wynand to the prosecutor to alter her ticket for the following day and to arrange accommodation in a hotel.

Wynand also explains her attempts at retrieving one of her bags which mysteriously disappeared after police had gone to collect these from the home of ANC MPL in North West, Hlomane Chauke, where Fransman and his companions had stopped off before later checking in to the Sun City resort.

In January Wynand had fled from a restaurant at Sun City when Fransman had allegedly embraced and kissed her neck in spite of her protests. The incident took place a day after he had allegedly sexually assaulted her in a hotel in Kimberley.

Arriving at the Sun City resort presented Wynand with her first opportunity to escape from Fransman and his colleagues and she did so, alerting security at the hotel. She was then taken to the Sun City charge office where she attempted to give a statement.

Wynand had left all her belongings in Chauke’s house in Rustenburg. She returned home to Cape Town, leaving behind her bags.

The one bag was returned to me with all my personal items terribly soiled. It smelled as if someone had urinated on my clothes,” Wynand told Daily Maverick.

Meanwhile Fransman, after the release of his WhatsApp messages to Wynand, intimated through his lawyer that he would be willing to face charges should the DPP in the Northern Cape – where the case has been transferred as the alleged sexual assault took place in Kimberley – decide to proceed with the matter.

The publication of the WhatsApps – which Fransman has not challenged – have put paid to the ANC leader’s earlier public statement released soon after reports that a case of sexual assault had been lodged against him that he did not know Wynand.

In that statement Fransman essentially denied knowing Wynand, telling the media that she had been a companion “of one of the other passengers”. He also said that the laying of charges had been “low” and that “as a seasoned politician I expect these kinds of malicious attacks on my integrity. This is unfortunately one of the lowest levels that people can stoop to.”

When the Integrity Committee completes its report on Fransman, it will be sent to the ANC’s top six in the NEC for a decision.

So, the question is would a decision by the IC – if this is indeed the conclusion they have come to – seeking the censure of Fransman be adhered to by the ANC’s top senior leaders?

ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe, at the party’s National General Council (NGC) meeting in October last year, set out how the NEC had failed to implement decisions of the Integrity Committee, sometimes also referred to as the Integrity Commission. Mantashe had said that those who had been implicated felt it would be an admission of guilt should they step aside if this is what the commission recommended.

Natasha Marrian of the Financial Mail wrote that Zuma acolytes in the NGC “were of the opinion that allowing the integrity commission to take binding decisions against those implicated in scandals violated the Constitution of the country and could be abused by that individual’s political opponents. They feared that the commission could be used in factional fights.”

A resolution on the Integrity Committee or Commission had been taken at the ANC’s National General Council in 2010 and it was during the party’s national conference in Mangaung in 2012 that a resolution was adopted to set up the IC at all levels of the organisation.

The IC is chaired by Rivonia triallist and former Robben Island prisoner Andrew Mlangeni and secretariat members include stalwarts Frene Ginwala, Nelson Diale, Gertrude Shope, Ahmed Kathrada, Rashida Abdullah, Mendi Msimang, Sophie de Bruyn, Jethro Ndlovu, Denis Goldberg, Lindelwe Mabandla and Nokukhanya Jele.

In October Mantashe admitted, We have owned up to the fact that we have not implemented many of the recommendations made by the commission. We have asked the general council to accept that the integrity commission should be given a task to make decisions.”

The IC has faced serious criticism that members of the NEC did not take decisions by the IC seriously. But in the end the NGC in October took a “far-reaching decision” that the integrity commission did indeed have the power to take binding decisions.

However, four days later the ANC’s Northern Cape leader, John Block, was found guilty of fraud and corruption in the Northern Cape High Court in a case relating to tenders for the province’s health department and dating back five years.

Writing in the Daily Maverick, Stephen Grootes remarked then, “What is slightly amazing about this case is that there really was no doubt about which finding the judge would make. Everyone in politics has known that this was serious, that Block would likely be found guilty, and that there was no other way for this to end.”

The ANC afterwards issued a terse statement that it had noted the Block judgment and was awaiting sentencing. However, a short while later Block resigned as Northern Cape leader as well as from his positions as Finance MEC in the Northern Cape government and as ANC MPL

Louisa Wynand knows she might not be able to rely on the Integrity Committee or the ANC’s top six. She (as well as Fransman too, it seems) would prefer the matter to reach the courts where all the evidence can be aired in public and tested. DM

Photo: Marius Fransman, Louisa Wynand.

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