Marius Fransman's fall into the honey trap

Andrew Donaldson on how the ANC WCape leader can avoid such temptations in future

MUCH chatter at the Mahogany Ridge this week about divine intervention in this matter of Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman’s allegedly straying trousers and the mysterious “honey trap” engineered by his rivals in the party. 

There has been prolonged supplication to the heavens since January, when Fransman’s former personal assistant, 21-year-old Louisa Wynand, first accused him of sexually harassing her on a trip to ANC birthday rally in Rustenburg.

The following month, you may recall, Fransman reportedly spent Valentine’s Day — inappropriately enough — in an Elsies River church receiving prayers of support from the congregation to help him “navigate” the allegations, as News24 put it. “These things,” Pastor Peter Stevenson noted, “need to be solved as God wants.”

And these things have indeed been taken care of. So much so, that our skepticism, you may say, has been truly shaken. Prosecutors in North West province have declined to pursue the matter “due to insufficient evidence”. Their counterparts in the Northern Cape are expected to follow suit, according to Fransman’s lawyer, Mushtaq Parker.

The ANC leader, meanwhile, is as pleased as Punch with all this. “We must thank the public,” he has declared, “and those religious leaders that stood by me irrespective of understanding the merits of the case; by just being compassionate.”

Spirits duly raised by an abundance of the touchy-feely stuff, Fransman has wasted no time in accusing a rival ANC faction, led by Boland secretary Jonton Snyman, of luring him into a honey trap. 

To this end, he’s supported by allies who claim in affidavits that Snyman had set out to wreck Fransman’s career. 

There are, admittedly, those who feel that Fransman is quite capable of wrecking his own career and certainly without assistance. They cruelly point out that, if there was a honey trap, then it was one that Fransman had himself set; it was he, after all, and not his enemies, who had employed Wynand in the first place.

And speaking of which, I’m not quite sure Fransman even understands the concept of the honey trap. A divorce lawyer’s tool, it was primarily used to gather evidence of a spouse’s infidelity. They only ever catch adulterers. 

But, to give him the benefit of the doubt, assuming he had no such intentions, how should Fransman, a married, fortysomething father of two, have behaved in the face of such temptation? Would prayer have helped him cope with the advances from a sultry minx less than half his age?

Perhaps we can learn something from Greek mythology and the example of Odysseus and the Sirens. The classicists among us know the latter as temptresses who lured sailors to their doom with their seductive song. 

Being a curious sort, Odysseus wanted to hear what they sounded like. So he ordered his men to lash him to the mast and then stuff their ears with wax. The Sirens’ voices drove him insane with lust and he wanted to dive into the sea to be with them but his men, unaffected by the singing, couldn’t hear his furious demands that he be untied. Odysseus was thus spared from drowning — and throwing away his good name.

This could be an option for Fransman. Next time he undertakes a road trip with a young nubile perhaps he could be lashed to the roof of the car? That would certainly keep him safe and out of all sorts of trouble.

Speaking of trouble, and moving on, it would appear that South Africa’s best-known cartoonist has now apologised for using the country’s best-known racist trope to depict the relationship between President Jacob Zuma and National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams.

It did seem incredible that, in this rage-fuelled age of Penny Sparrow and her “simianisation” of black people, Zapiro should draw Abrahams as a monkey performing for organ-grinder Zuma.

The cartoon clearly commented on the relationship between Accused Number One and Abrahams, particularly in the context of the NPA’s decision to appeal a high court judgment that set aside the decision to drop corruption charges against Zuma,

But this point was overwhelmed by the ensuing outrage, some of it clearly self-administered. Zapiro later explained to the Mail&Guardian that he thought the cartoon was “a pretty clear metaphor”:

“You have these two figures: [Zuma] is not in any way simian, and then his lackey is drawn in a monkey-like way. There’s no nuance. If that [cartoon] is immediately gonna be linked with Penny Sparrow … then I’m gonna have to change my approach.”

Perhaps a dancing bear next time. Or even a performing seal.

This article first appeared in the Weekend Argus.