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Test-tube-baby tourists' dream turns sour

South Africa

What was supposed to be a win-win deal between a lesbian couple, a German television company, a glossy magazine and the owners of a luxury Constantia lodge has turned into an ugly spat with allegations of non-payment and broken agreements.

Police charges have now been laid and all parties have consulted lawyers to try to resolve the mess.

It all started when German couple Katharena and Jennifer Hieb were chosen by a German television company Good Times to be filmed for a programme called Pro 7 which is producing a series called Lebe deinen Traum meaning "live your dream".

The young couple, who married in April, wanted to start a family using in-vitro fertilisation and Good Times apparently offered to help them achieve this if they could film the entire process.

They couldn't do it in Germany because the law allows doctors to be sued for maintenance if they perform the treatment so they decided on the Cape Fertility Clinic in Newlands.

With the help of Kapstadt.com, a glossy local magazine created by Peter Koblmiller for the German market, a Good Times crew and the couple were offered free accommodation at Wittenham Hall, an upmarket country lodge in Constantia run by Alex and Sebastian Fan-Moniz, owners of the Mayfair Collection.

The deal was that the lodge would feature prominently in the 48-minute television programme which will be broadcast during prime time to millions in Germany.

But things soon started to unravel.

Sebastian Fan-Moniz claims it was because Kapstadt.com started "bickering" about additional expenses.

He said the deal was a "generous trade exchange" in which the Mayfair Collection was due to receive publicity on the show in return for the complimentary accommodation.

But he said it was made clear from the start that all other services would have to be paid for. Fan-Moniz initially claimed the amount owed to them by Good Times was R7 287.24 but later said the bill was R106 000.

Fan-Moniz said he intended taking legal action.

A call to Good Times in Germany by Weekend Argus was not returned on Friday but Koblmiller of Kapstadt.com said he had also taken legal opinion following alleged defamatory statements made by Fan-Moniz, who he accuses of foolish accusations.

Koblmiller alleged that charges on the invoice were excessive and included Internet charges for days they were not in Cape Town.

He said it was unfortunate that the Mayfair Collection would benefit anyway from the television programme because it had already been filmed.

"That type of publicity you can't pay for it," he said.

helen.bamford@inl.co.za

 

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