ANC report on Marius Fransman says sexual harassment claims may be true

The ANC’s integrity commission report on the sexual harassment allegations made against its suspended Western Cape chairperson, Marius Fransman, reveals it was of the unanimous view that the evidence presented by the 21-year-old complainant was of a convincing nature and “more likely to be true, than not”.

Fransman was accused by Louisa Wynand of sexually harassing her when she travelled as his personal assistant to Rustenburg for the ANC’s 104th birthday in January this year.

The integrity commission is tasked with protecting the image and reputation of the ANC and it stated in its findings, which have not been revealed until now, that “in light of the above, the integrity commission unanimously finds that the actions and behaviour of comrade Marius Fransman in this matter have brought the ANC into disrepute and have tarnished its image.”

The commission recommended that disciplinary charges be imposed upon Fransman by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee.

 Fransman proceeded to court this week to obtain a copy of the report, and to request that he be granted an order confirming him as provincial leader, but suddenly withdrew his case yesterday.

This came after the damning report was enclosed in the ANC’s opposing papers handed into the Western Cape high court.

The ANC’s attorney, Mfana Gwala, told the Mail & Guardian that Fransman had withdrawn his case and his legal team had tried to strike an agreement with the ANC that it pay court costs, which it had refused to do.

“The rules are very clear. If you withdraw a matter, you must pay costs. Yet they tried to get an agreement from us that we should pay costs, but my client (the ANC) is insistent that Marius Fransman should pay costs,” said Gwala. 

“He owes us the costs. He withdrew the matter and he must pay the costs. It is our view that it is inopportune of Marius Fransman to bring this application. The integrity commission is an internal process.”

The ruling party was drawing up disciplinary charges against Fransman in connection with the sexual harassment claims, said Gwala. 

“Those disciplinary charges are being drawn up as we speak,” he said.

Gwala said Fransman was better placed to explain why he had withdrawn the case, as they had been ready to proceed.

“We were then contacted by his attorney, who said Fransman intends withdrawing his action because he has received the integrity commission report. That is the spin he puts on it. In our view, there were other other issues and we still needed to proceed, but unfortunately he saw it fit to withdraw.”

Gwala said the ANC had intended to give Fransman a copy of the report and there had been no need to take the ANC to court.

Fransman and his attorney, Ashley Meyer, were not available for comment, but they forwarded a statement released yesterday to the M&G, in which Fransman pledged his devotion to the ANC.

“I never wanted to go to court, but I had no choice and the receipt of the integrity commission report justifies the action. I will now thoroughly study its content.”

While Fransman was suspended by the ANC five months ago, pending disciplinary action, confusion reigned last week when Fransman was photographed with President Jacob Zuma on his campaign trail around Cape Town. 

In a further mystery, Fransman alleged in his court papers that he had been invited to join the president on the campaign trail. 

In his version of events presented to the integrity commission, Fransman claimed he had not offered Wynand any formal employment, nor touched her inappropriately or made any sexual advances towards her. Instead, he told the commission her allegations were part of a political plot to get rid of him.

“According to him, the plot is concocted by a faction in the ANC in the Western Cape, called Unity in Diversity, states the report. 

“He alleges the faction is funded by Cheslyn Mostert and controls 35% of the provincial executive committee in the Western Cape including the provincial secretary, comrade Faiez Jacobs. 

“Comrade Fransman further alleges the faction includes comrade Tony Yengeni, whom he describes as being one of the key agitators.”

However, the commission was clearly not convinced by the allegations made by Fransman of a political plot to destroy him. 

“The integrity commission is of the unanimous view that the evidence presented by Louisa is of a cogent nature and more likely to be true than not,” it states in its report.

Fransman and Wynand were called to give evidence to the integrity commission and two officials with knowledge of Western Cape politics, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, were also called before the commission. 

The Western Cape ANC has been beset by factionalism, which the commission report concedes still continues.

Wynand told the commission she had met Fransman at a wine estate, where she was working as a hostess. She then claimed she was offered a job as his personal assistant, before accompanying him on the road trip. Wynand also alleged that he wanted to hold her hand and touch her inappropriately.

“When he tried to hold her she allegedly said no and he asked her whether she would always be uncooperative if she worked with him,” the report stated.

On arrival at Diamond Road Lodge in Kimberley, Wynand was informed that only two rooms had been booked and she would have to share a room with Fransman.

“Louisa says that Fransman kept pulling her closer and touched her breasts,” the report states. 

“She stayed awake the whole night, in order to prevent anything from happening.”

According to the report, Wynand left the room at 6am and later returned to confront him.

“When she confronted him, Louisa says that he laughed and told her that if she wants to be successful, she needed to get over personal issues and also that he only wanted to pet and be affectionate. 

“She replied that she was not an affectionate person, to which Fransman allegedly said that she should not bring her personal issues into her work. She further says that Fransman had told her that other girls who had gone through this were successful now.”

In Rustenburg, they went to a guesthouse owned by the ANC’s Patrick Chauke, who asked Wynand if she knew that Fransman was the person who had “made” the president sit around a table with the 28s gang, according to the report.

When they arrived at Sun City, Wynand called a friend of hers from the police, referred to as Ryan, and she was advised to report her complaint to Sun City security, who took her to Rustenburg police station. 

“Apparently the police refused to assist her,” the report states.

Eventually Wynand was escorted to the Sun City police station, where she waited 24 hours before her statement was finally taken.” 

Wynand was later taken to the airport, as Ryan had contacted her parents, who purchased an air ticket for her to fly home.

The report also reveals that another woman had sent affidavits to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, allegedly accusing Fransman of the “same contravention with a number of women”.

“She, however, ended up retracting her affidavits, resigning from the ANC and declaring her intention to start a “boere” party in the Northern Cape,” the integrity commission said.

The integrity commission outlined how the character and value system of the ANC demanded a high moral and ethical standard of all members, including the upholding of gender equality and mutual respect. 

“Following from the above, the integrity commission recommends that the matter of comrade Marius Fransman be referred to the ANC national disciplinary committee.”

The secretary-general of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, revealed his displeasure with Fransman in his affidavit lodged in court, opposing Fransman’s application.

“As I expand below, what lies at the heart of this case is the fact that the applicant faces grave charges of misconduct, on matters which constitute abuse of position and sexual harassment, which bring the reputation of the ANC into question. 

“He is now the subject of internal disciplinary processes. He will be afforded all his rights and access to documents in the internal party processes.”

Fransman had not required a court order to obtain a copy of the integrity commission report, insisted Mantashe.

“He (Fransman) will get it via the internal processes of the ANC, a fact which he is well aware of. 

“The second issue concerns the alleged unlawful suspension. This is a classic disciplinary matter. If the applicant claims, as he appear to be, that the procedure followed in his suspension is unlawful, he is required to approached the national executive committee for the review of the decision.

“He is not allowed to approach a court before exhausting the internal remedies at his disposal.”

The ANC also included in its court papers a letter dated January 27 from the national working committee of the ANC to Fransman, announcing that it had resolved by round robin that Fransman be directed to step down as provincial chairperson in the Western Cape.

This was to be enforced until the South African Police Service had taken a final decision on the criminal charge preferred against him, and the integrity committee had investigated the case and made its findings.

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