Marius Fransman sexual abuse case reopened as new evidence emerges
Police in Kimberley have reopened a case of sexual assault against ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman after a series of WhatsApp messages Fransman sent to the 20-year-old woman, Louisa Wynand, days before she was due to travel with the ANC leader to attend the ruling party’s 104th anniversary in Rustenberg, were forwarded by Daily Maverick to the NPA, who in turn sent them to the Northern Cape Deputy Director of Public Prosecution. Earlier, police announced that the charges had been withdrawn “due to a lack of evidence”. The messages paint a picture of a manipulative and inappropriately flirtatious communication between a married middle-aged politician and his newly-appointed young employee. By MARIANNE THAMM.
On Monday 6 June, Daily Maverick sent an e-mail to Marius Fransman’s personal e-mail address that was supplied by the ANC leader’s personal assistant in Cape Town. We sent a second e-mail on 8 June affording Fransman the right to reply to copies of WhatsApp messages between him and the complainant Louisa Wynand and which we publish here in the public interest. At the time of writing, late on 13 June, we had still received no reply from Mr Fransman.
On the morning of 20 May 2016 at 08:05 one Colonel Madotha, who had been tasked with investigating charges of sexual assault against ANC leader Marius Fransman, sent a WhatsApp message to complainant Louisa Wynand replying to her message of the previous day asking whether there was any news with regard to a case of sexual assault she had lodged with the police at Sun Cityfour months earlier.
CAS 42/1/2016 had been registered at Sun City police station on January 6, two days before ANC officials and supporters celebrated the party’s 104th anniversary at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in North West province on 8 January. By then, the traumatised 20-year-old had managed to contact her anguished parents who had flown her back home to Cape Town.
She had left behind all her belongings in a home belonging to ANC North West MPL Hlomane Chauke in Rustenberg, where Fransman’s entourage had originally planned on staying overnight.
Earlier, Wynand had arrived at the Sun City charge office in an agitated state, seeking help. Officers there seemed disinterested, at first suggesting that “there are two sides to a story” when she told them what had happened to her over the previous two days. She was instructed to write a sworn statement but while doing so noticed that Chauke had arrived at the charge office to file a missing person’s report on her.
Wynand had fled earlier, making an excuse that she had needed to use the toilet.
Wynand said she had begged officers not to disclose that she was in the charge office and, ducking under a table, took a photograph with her cellphone of Chauke talking to a duty officer (Daily Maverick is in possession of copies of these photographs). She also had the presence of mind to make recordings of subsequent conversations that took place around her. In that moment, Wynand told Daily Maverick, she understood that she was in deep trouble.
By the time Louisa Wynand convinced police to open a docket, she had already survived, she told Daily Maverick, a harrowing, sleepless night trapped in the budget Road Lodge in Kimberley, where she alleges Fransman had forced her to share a double bed. It was here also that she alleges the ANC leader had held her in a tight grip, fondled and touched her after attempting to do so earlier on several occasions during a road trip from Cape Town. While Fransman, accompanied by two colleagues, Donovan Cloete and Majiet Mogamat, had initially driven the Jaguar, he later opted to sit in the rear with Wynand.
Stranded with three strangers and her cellphone battery running low, Wynand plotted how she could get out of the situation. But it was 02:00 when Fransman’s entourage had arrived in a deserted Kimberley. The lodge is located off the N12 on the outskirts of town so there was nowhere to run.
Fransman’s companions, says Wynand, had booked two rooms, which had surprised her. She had initially thought the men would all share a room and had been shocked to discover that Fransman would actually be sharing her room, which was furnished with a double bed and a chair. (This would be a matter not too difficult for the new investigating officer in Kimberley to corroborate.)
The first opportunity for Wynand to report the alleged sexual assault arose the following day when Fransman, Mogamat, Cloete and Wynand arrived in Rustenberg and, after initially camping out at a house that appeared to belong to Chauke, had gone to the Sun City resort to check in. Many of the delegates attending the ANC NEC meeting in the run-up to the celebration were checked in at the same hotel.
Once there, Fransman had suggested they eat dinner at the Raj Indian Cuisine restaurant. Fransman, alleges Wynand, had attempted to get a second room which was when she WhatsApped a friend asking for help, terrified she would be forced once again to share a room with the ANC leader.
In the meantime Fransman, apparently ignoring her protestations, allegedly continued to harass Wynand, embracing and kissing her neck in the restaurant. Wynand excused herself saying she needed to use the toilet. She contacted hotel security to ask for help. Daily Maverick has learnt that the exchange was captured on the hotel’s CCTV camera.
The hotel security official referred her in turn her to an SAPS member who was in the hotel. The policewoman, however, refused to help Wynand, saying she had been deployed specifically to provide security for the ANC’s celebrations.
Duty called, no doubt.
Wynand eventually made it to the Sun City charge office where she spent hours trying to explain what had happened. Recordings reveal an increasingly agitated Wynand attempting to set out what had occurred over the past two days and requesting police not to take calls from anyone who was attempting to locate her.
Finally an SAPS clerk (whose identity is known to Daily Maverick) who had been observing events offered to help Wynand escape the charge office through a back window. The concerned clerk had called a colleague and friend from the SAPS Phokeng charge office to collect Wynand from the Sun City police station.
Twenty-four hours later, after having to give her statement for the second time at Phokeng, Louisa Wynand was driven by police to Lanseria airport, where she boarded a plane back home.
“I cannot tell you the sense of relief when I stepped off that plane. But my life has not been the same since,” Wynand said.
Colonel Madotha’s WhatsApp to Louisa on 20 May read:
“Morning, I saw yo (sic) message this morning. I got the docket yesterday and I was going to contact you today in any case because I was discussing it with my seniors first. The Director of Public Prosecutions declined to prosecute due to insufficient evidence, meaning Mr Marious (sic) cannot be charged and taken to court with the current evidence we have”.
“What does that mean? There is nothing else you can do? They didn’t even look at all the evidence, they didn’t even finish the investigation!! I am still waiting for them to send me an e-mail address.”
Before that she had sent several WhatsApps to the colonel asking for an e-mail address to be forwarded to her.
“When are they [the DPP] going to to send me an e-mail address so I can send them the information they asked for?” she asked the colonel.
“I don’t know about that arrangement because whatever they discussed with you is confidential however I will pass your message to them,” replied the colonel.
But Louisa Wynand, now 21, is a woman who refuses to just go away or be intimidated.
Since lodging the case and learning that police had originally said there was insufficient evidence to charge Fransman, she has gone public in an attempt to highlight the apparent lack of urgency and concern from police and the authorities. Her life, she says, has been turned upside down. She is unemployed, has gone into hiding and had to cancel her 21st birthday party. Her boyfriend has, she says, been pulled over by police several times on the allegations that he was peddling drugs.
“The police told him that someone called them with a tip-off that he was a drug dealer. It is very scary. I feel like we are being intimidated,” she said.
Her brother, Ashley, has received several phone threats as well, which he confirmed to Daily Maverick.
Wynand and Ashley were both flown to Johannesburg to give evidence at the ANC’s integrity commission and the young woman has also received personal support from Minister of Education and former head of the ANC Women’s League, Angie Motshekga.
But other than that, it appears as if senior leaders in the ANC have closed ranks around Fransman.
Until he had approached and offered her a job, Louisa Wynand claims she had no idea who Marius Fransman was. The Western Cape ANC leader, accompanied by Mogamat, had visited Asara, a wine farm near Stellenbosch where Wynand had started work as a hostess in November. Workers are accommodated on the farm, which is known to be one of Fransman’s favourite haunts.
Wynand told Daily Maverick that Fransman had approached her as he was leaving the venue, telling her he was looking for staff for a new hospitality project he was working on with a friend at the Kings in Cape Hotel in Hout Street in Cape Town. Fransman, said Wynand, had said he needed “workers” and had asked if she could recommend anyone.
“I said I would let him know. He asked for my number and I gave it to him. When I asked who he was, he looked at his friend and they both laughed and walked out,” she said.
Now, here’s the thing: Marius Fransman has publicly stated that Louisa Wynand was a “plant” or a “honey trap” set up by rival factions in the Western Cape ANC. He has also claimed that “there is more to the complaint than meets the eye”. Shortly after media reports that Wynand had laid the charge, Yonela Diko, of the ANC Western Cape Communications Office, issued a statement saying Fransman “denies the allegations with the contempt they deserve”.
Fransman also said that “as a seasoned politician I expect these kinds of malicious attacks on my integrity. This is unfortunately one of the lowest level that people can stoop to.”
Diko went on to say:
“The ANC Western Cape chairperson admits knowing the complainant and travelling with her and two other individuals from Cape Town to Rustenburg, but denies causing her any harm. The complainant was a companion of one of the passengers in the vehicle. Mr Fransman is a firm believer and promoter of the rights of women and has committed himself to upholding the laws of the country.”
It was Fransman who was first to approach Wynand, and not the other way around. A singularly extraordinary coup, one must admit, for a young honey trap to have pulled off, even by James Bond’s elaborate special effects standards.
Wynand only discovered Fransman’s identity when he sent his driver, Bob, to collect her from the wine farm for an apparent job interview at the Kings in Cape Hotel on Saturday, 2 January.
“When the driver picked me up I asked him who this guy was. He said do you have Google? I did and then I saw, wow, this guy is one of the leaders in the region. I was freaking out,” she said.
Fransman, says Wynand, had told her that the proposed job would be varied, that she would be helping with the renovation of the hotel as well as acting as his personal assistant. Because she was a musician, she might be expected to sing every now and again, she was told. Over and above this she would be involved with the “hospitality” of the hotel and other vague duties.
On January 3 – a Sunday, at 00:21 – Fransman sent Wynand a WhatsApp from his personal cell number.
“Yesday. Start Monday. Remember 1st week of workweek in jan!!! Leap of faith” followed at 00:22 by “also don’t indicate where u gona work. I know the owner.”
To which Wynand replied at 06:58:
“Good morning. I just sent the e-mail but it is not going through can you please send it through again maybe theres something missing” followed at 07:01 by “okay it went through now let me know if you got it.”
Fransman replies at 09:23:
“Before 7am-impressed! Will check”, and at 9:27:
“Read it. As Madjiet said CVs don’t tell much- its rather my 3 interactions with u that convince me”.
At 12:15 Fransman asks her “In any case did u sleep over our discussion? If so what u think?”
Wynand replies at 12:17:
“I spoke to **** (name withheld by DM) this morning, told him im resigning he said he cant tell the gm today because hes going to let security evict me off the property effective immediately if I want to leave to start working for you tomorrow.”
“so that’s fine. U can so long have accommodation”, followed by at 12:19:
“I am listening to Imagine of John Lennon”.
Wynand replies 12:19:
“So I am going to have to work out a notice period but I don’t know how long. Lae states that I have to at least do two weeks tho.”
Fransman at 12:19:
“Hope u will learn to sing that”.
Fransman discusses logistics of the move also telling Wynand that he is leaving for Rustenberg the following day. Wynand responds to his John Lennon reference saying:
“Hahahah that’s not too hard I sure I can learn that.”
At 13:39 he writes, “so you will sort out getting stuff to ur parents or must I still get ballot” .. “I mean baklie”… “Bakkie”.
“For cape town yes but my parents will sort one fir taking my stuff to their house, thanx anyway.”
“Kewl. then c tomrow” followed immediately by “also it is hot that side. informal gear and sensual.”
“Okay got it!!”
At 14:02 Fransman writes:
“Forgot to ask. Pl don’t tell your bf you working fr me. Don’t need jealous guys around.”
To which Wynand replies at 14:13:
“hes not that type and ill handle my personal life very discreetly, I dont mix business with pleasure either, so don’t worry I know how to handle it.”
“Good..but hey there will be pleasure in business?”
“I know yes!!”
“Why u say that?”
“Because im not going to be working on ur political level u hired me for the hospitality level and thats considered fun for me cos I love what I do.”
There is some discussion about getting Wynand to talk to Mogamat at the Kings in Cape to book a restaurant venue for the following Saturday.
“re your point re our space – just be open minded”
“Okay will do, what do you mean re your point. Ekt di booking gmaak hy vra of dt mointlik is omhom more te kom sien?” (I have made the booking, he asks if it is possible to see him tomorrow).
“We can let him know tomrw after we discussed it.”
At 15:03 Fransman asks Wynand “Still at work?”
She replies at 15:04 “Yep just finishing up them im off to start packing.”
“Kewl. Leave that conservatism also there and embrace to be and work hard but play hard also.”
“Sjoe its hot”
“Tell me about it at least your not packing boxes. lol”
“Take a selfie let me see”
“lmk noit my kamer is te demekaar nou” (Laughing out loud my room is too untidy)
On January 4 at 7:30 Wynand asks Fransman what time the driver will be collecting her. He replies around 9:30 and asks how she slept. She replies “well” and that she has not done so for a long time due to her work hours.
At 8:02 she tells Fransman that she is going to shower and wash her hair.
He replies at 8:03:
“Make urself hot for trip!!”
“Just finihsed my hair. Im in pniel at my brothers house figured I should let you know its just outside stellenbosch on ur way to franschoek”.
“ok. Not possible tp get to stellenbosch?”
“My parents are already gone for work. we spent the night here for braai.”
“Ok. Donovan (Cloete) getting u”
The rest of the story is contained in sworn statements in the original police docket which has apparently bounced between provinces for months while Fransman has continued to deny the charges. His supporters have rallied around him, holding prayer meetings and rallies. The announcement that the charges had been withdrawn was met with jubilation.
Daily Maverick sent copies of the WhatsApp messages to the NPA who in turn forwarded them to the Northern Cape Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions. No one had contacted Wynand for copies of these before this.
So, while Marius Fransman, the ANC and his supporters may have thought he was off the hook, advocate Tania Birch, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Northern Cape, confirmed toDaily Maverick that the case is still in fact being investigated. On Monday Wynand received the new number, CAS 172/06/2016, for the matter that is now being investigated by a Lieutenant-Colonel Nel.
Louisa Wynand will, for now, be known as the young woman who spoke up and who took on a very powerful politician who enjoys support from the top ANC leadership. Going public, showing her face and telling her story is all she has for now, she says. She is keen for the matter to go to trial and for her version of the truth to be tested in court. Going public, it seems, is the only way that might happen. DM
Photo: Two of Marius Fransman’s WhatsApp messages to Louisa Wynand.