Dark cloud lifts as Idol begins new life
By Zara Nicholson and Edward Malnick
In the same week her former boyfriend was convicted of murder, former Idols winner Karin Kortje has started a new life after three rollercoaster years, with the launch of her first single on Friday.
The single, Love In The First Degree, is a cover of Bananarama's 1987 UK hit. Kortje is also pregnant with her second child by fiance Shaun Dore, whom she is due to marry in August. And before the wedding, she has a full line-up of gigs arranged.
This week she sighed with relief when she heard former boyfriend Cheslyn Williams had been found guilty of the July 2006 murder of guesthouse owner Renate Kellerman. Kortje and Williams had been staying at the Durbanville guesthouse at the time.
Williams was also found guilty of attempted rape and robbery.
Kortje broke up with Williams shortly after his arrest, after at first believing his plea of innocence. But her association with him had already cost her a contract with BMG Records, and possibly other opportunities.
Speaking to the Weekend Argus on Friday, her manager, Boebie Hamza, said the constant linking of her name with Williams had "really got Karin down".
Hamza said Kortje had had no idea about the guilty verdict, and when he called her to tell her, her reaction had been "a deep sigh of relief".
"That sums up how she feels - that it's finally over, and hopefully people won't associate her with him any more. This is a new beginning for her.
"She lost a lot because of the Cheslyn saga but she's strong and we are in a better position than we were a year ago."
Kortje landed the Sony BMG contract when she was announced the winner of South Africa's version of reality TV show Idols in 2005. At the time she was an apple packer in Grabouw.
She was put up for adoption at birth and her adoptive father died when she was 14. Her adoptive mother died five years later.
Kortje, who has a seven-year-old son, Cameron, from a previous relationship, had her baby, Tobin, last year, also by Dore, her former bodyguard.
Kortje will do a 10-night run at the Baxter Theatre, which ends on the eve of her wedding.
"She is optimistic about the future," said Hamza. "She knows there are no guarantees, but she feels the media put her down a lot.
"She broke up with Cheslyn shortly after his arrest. Initially, there was that naivete of believing him."
Rumours that Kortje had written to Williams while he was in custody had hurt the singer the most, Hamza said.
Asked about her new relationship, Hamza said, "Karin is very much in love and I believe Shaun feels the same about her. We cannot predict the future, but at the moment things are going nicely."
An album is expected to be released around Christmas, and Hamza said the title would centre on "a new beginning".
Hamza said they were planning a "fairy tale wedding" for Kortje in Grabouw.