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Durban - A Glenwood businessman has turned to the high court with the claim that his ex-wife, who “detests” him, is trying to hire a hit man to kill him so that she can claim more than R4 million from life insurance policies.
Lynton Roberts says he “would put nothing past” Kate Schmidt, the woman he divorced two years ago and who he alleges has been pestering a bouncer and former convict to “take him out”, offering him a share of the insurance spoils.
In his affidavit, which came before Judge Jerome Mnguni on Friday, Roberts said he and Schmidt had married in January 2002 and had run two close corporations, one a property business and the other a brokerage.
The marriage soured and the couple divorced in 2011 with the agreement that she would take one business and he the other.
Because they had no children, this ended his financial obligation to her and he said she no longer had any “insurable interest” in his life.
However, two life insurance policies in his name, valued collectively at more than R4.8 million, which were taken out during the marriage, were now “haunting” him and providing Schmidt with a motive to have him killed.
“We detest each other,” he said.
“After the divorce she did not get a job because she acquired a 100 percent interest in the property-owning business, which provided an income. She also remarried two days later.
“However, what is extraordinary is that two years later and during a time when she has not been gainfully employed, she has continued to pay the premiums on the policies,” he said.
Roberts said he was “shocked” when, earlier this month, he was phoned by a former neighbour, Naomi Watson, asking to meet.
Watson told him that her son’s girlfriend “Bernie” had been in the presence of bouncer Bruce Pridgeon when he took a call from someone trying to persuade him to kill another person.
Pridgeon told Bernie who was on the phone and the intended target. Bernie told her boyfriend, who told his mother.
Roberts said he once lived in Amanzimtoti - a “small town” - and knew Pridgeon as “a colourful character” and “bull of man who, at age 52, was a competitive power lifter festooned with tattoos”.
Roberts said Pridgeon had served time in jail “for stolen vehicles”, and earned his living as a bouncer, bodyguard and a debt collector.
On September 17, he met Pridgeon, who confirmed he had first met Schmidt four to five months ago at SherJo’s restaurant when she said she wanted him to “take out Lynton Roberts”.
“Pridgeon’s initial response was dismay and shock. He and I know each other. He told her he wanted no part in the plan.
“A few weeks later they met again. She brought insurance policy schedules with her and showed them to him. She said if he carried out the hit he would receive about R1.2 million.
“Pridgeon again told her he wanted no part in her scheme and tried to dissuade her.
“He explained the police would investigate a suspicious death and told her how horrible prison was. She had called him on his cellphone from hers and questions would be asked about this.
“Pridgeon reported the incident to Superintendent Garth le Roux of the organised crime unit. He undertook to try to help. Nothing has come of this.”
Meanwhile, over the next weeks, Schmidt called Pridgeon “relentlessly”, up to seven times a day and even went to the Virgin Active gym to leave messages there for him to phone her.
Pridgeon has submitted an affidavit confirming what Roberts said.
Roberts says he is “very worried” and believes it is only a matter of time before Schmidt finds someone who can be tempted to kill for reward.
He says an interdict will “hopefully give her pause for thought” and the secondary relief he seeks - the cancellation of the insurance policies - will remove the motive and her means to pay someone to do the deed.
It was recorded in court on Friday that Schmidt had undertaken not to harm or incite anyone else to harm Roberts.
She has until October 14 to file any papers and the matter was adjourned, with costs reserved.
The attorney acting for Roberts, Malcolm Lutge, confirmed that the matter had also now been reported to the police.