Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Johannesburg - Insurance mogul Douw Steyn is at the centre of another row – with a former lover privately prosecuting him for assault.
Donne Botha accuses him of assaulting her in 2006 and 2008.
In June 2010 the National Director of Public Prosecutions declined to prosecute Steyn.
Her attorney, Paul Jorgensen, confirmed that Botha was prosecuting Steyn on charges of assault and crimen injuria.
But Steyn, through his attorney Sharon Wapnick, said that four years ago Botha had made a demand “on a spurious basis” for payment of R30 million when the couple ended their relationship. She threatened to lay criminal charges against Steyn if he didn’t pay.
He denied the charges and declined to make payment of what he called her “extortionate” claim. When he refused, Botha laid charges on February 19, a few days after Steyn’s remarriage to Carolyn Steyn was published in the press.
The private prosecution was heard by the Randburg Magistrate’s Court this week. A challenge was made by Steyn’s attorneys to the validity of the summons instituted by Botha against Steyn. A ruling on the technical aspects of the summons is expected next week.
“The institution of this private prosecution by Ms Botha is considered to be a gross abuse of process and will be dealt with accordingly. Mr Steyn is unaware of any charge that has allegedly been laid against him with Interpol in respect of an alleged assault committed by him in Mauritius, as has been claimed by Ms Botha.
“Any proceedings instituted by Ms Donne Botha will be defended by Mr Steyn and this may include an application to the High Court, if necessary, to declare the charges to be an abuse of the process of the court,” Wapnick said.
Botha and Douw Steyn’s relationship was a tumultuous one, it was revealed during her trial for attempting to murder beautician Bianca Ferrante when she found her in Steyn’s bed and attacked her with a champagne bottle in 2008.
In her plea explanation, she said that she and Steyn were engaged and had had a fight shortly before the attack on Ferrante on April 11, 2006.
She said she had drunk alcohol and taken medication but still went to the five-star boutique hotel, the Saxon, which Steyn owns, to discuss their relationship. When she arrived at his suite, she found him naked in bed with dark-haired Sicilian Ferrante. She claimed that she could not remember what happened afterwards.
But evidence showed that she grabbed a champagne bottle which was on a night stand next to the bed and lunged at Ferrante.
“Bad Brad” Wood, who was Steyn’s head of security at the time, broke up the fight and saved Ferrante from severe injury that night, the court heard.
Botha was slapped with a R3 000 fine or 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for three years. She was convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm for the champagne bottle attack.
It emerged that although Botha thought she had been married to Steyn – they had had a lavish wedding and reception in London – Steyn denied that it had been a “real” wedding.
Botha told Noseweek: “Yes, we definitely got married.
“We had the most unbelievable wedding in London… We had a minister and a hotel and family and guests and a R100 000 dress…”
But a close friend of Steyn’s told the magazine the posh affair had all been fake.
“There was a marriage in terms of like we have all been in plays.
“But it was not a legal marriage. It was a show. I don’t know if the minister was a real one or an actor.”
Ferrante also claimed that she was engaged to Steyn. She said he had asked her to marry him.
But Steyn denied this too.
Ferrante then filed an application to sue him for R1.2 million for breach of promise. But Steyn counter-sued her and her attorney as well as Wood for extortion.
It is unclear at what stage the cases currently are.
Who is Douw Steyn?
* He offered his Sandhurst house to former president Nelson Mandela when he came out of prison.
* Founded Auto and General Insurance.
* Owns the five-star Saxon Boutique Hotel in Joburg.
* Started the Budget Group, now called BGL, an insurance company, in the UK in 1992.
* According to reports he is a significant ANC donor.
* He owns the 10 100ha game reserve Shambala in the Waterberg Mountains.
* He remarried Carolyn Steyn on February 10.