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Durban - While still basking in the afterglow of his son Chad’s Olympic glory, Bert le Clos had a jolt back to reality when he had to cough up R18 000 in damages plus legal fees because of a bar brawl assault.
Le Clos snr became the darling of the London Olympics when he gave an impassioned, tearful interview to the BBC minutes after his son Chad had won an Olympic gold medal, beating famed US swimmer Michael Phelps.
People on social media networks also took a liking to “Chad’s dad”, with tweets and Facebook posts referring to him, and footage of the interview, which was uploaded to YouTube, being viewed 17 000 times.
The damages claim relates to the April 2010 assault of Durban chemist Richard Simpson at the Stella Sports Club in Davenport, which the extended Le Clos family frequent.
The case was meant to be called at the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, but Simpson’s attorney, Craig Preston-Whyte, said the matter had been settled and Le Clos had paid up.
Criminal charges were laid against Le Clos, but he was not convicted, and Simpson sued him civilly, obtaining default judgment against him in December last year after he arrived at the Pinetown court after the case had been called.
Le Clos told the court he could not pay as he was unemployed and had no money of his own.
A warrant of execution was then obtained against his property, but in a court affidavit Le Clos’s wife, Geraldine, said her husband did not own any property.
In an affidavit before the court, Simpson said that, aside from psychological trauma, he had suffered physical injuries, including a “black eye and contusions and lacerations to his nose”, in the assault.
“I was highly embarrassed and felt somewhat demeaned by virtue of the fact that the defendant [Le Clos] had assaulted me in front of members of the Stella Sports Club, whom I have known for a number of years. I have been an esteemed member of the club for over 25 years,” said Simpson.
A witness, who was consulted by Simpson’s attorney, said there had been verbal exchanges before Le Clos spat on Simpson and assaulted him.
In his plea before the court, Le Clos said that the incident had been instigated by Simpson.
“The plaintiff [Simpson] verbally attacked me and came towards me in an aggressive manner. I then pushed him in the face with an open hand, then there was a whole lot of insulting and verbal abuse taking place between us.”
Le Clos also said Simpson had a “grudge” against a relative.
Simpson is locked in ongoing litigation with Le Clos’s relative over a long-standing debt.
Contacted for comment on Thursday, Simpson said: “It has been two years of a difficult process, but I am happy that it is now over and he has settled.”
Le Clos’s lawyer, Gordon Pentecost, did not respond to The Mercury.
A message on Le Clos’s cellphone, which was confirmed by someone at his Pinetown residence, said he was away in Mauritius and would only be back at the weekend. - The Mercury