Graphic: Rowan Abrahams

Cape Town - A TV show aiming to discover Cape Town’s next top model is mired in controversy amid claims of broken promises and unpaid bills.

Beeldskoon: Model Discovery was punted as a latter-day Cinderella story with young women standing a chance of becoming supermodels and winning glittering prizes.

The show is the brainchild of Cape Town-based Snapshots TV Productions, and is based on the internationally acclaimed America’s Next Top Model reality competition.

Beeldskoon aspired to uplift local women from disadvantaged communities.

The promotional material says: “Alfredo Alfred created this concept with the aim to give aspiring models the opportunity to reach for their dreams.” 

Beeldskoon promised grand prizes. An SMS competition offered a Jeep Renegade. There was a week-long modelling mentorship in Los Angeles for the show’s winner, who would also be driving away in a new Fiat.

Auditions to find 12 finalists took place in Wynberg in February. Filming began in April, but by the time the finale was recorded on June 11, Beeldskoon was beset with problems.

Jeep Century City, at whose premises the finale was shot, was declared a “proud sponsor” by the show’s producers.

However, Jeep has rejected this claim, saying Alfred agreed to buy a Renegade 1.6L Sport, which retails for R299 900, for the SMS competition prize.

The winner’s Fiat was also to be purchased.

These vehicles were not purchased and Jeep has been unable to contact Alfred.

Anthea Mitchell Pearce sent 192 SMSes in the hope of winning.

Vodacom’s logo is displayed in promotional material linked to the SMS competition. 

However, Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy told Weekend Argus: “Vodacom is not involved in the sponsorship or endorsement of the ‘Beeldskoon: Model Discovery’ competition. We have asked them to remove our logo from their website.”

The SABC 3 logo is displayed on the www.snapshotstvproductions.co.za website and one of the models said: “SABC 3 is supposed to air the show. Alfredo said either the end of August or the beginning of September.”

But the first Aisha Mohamed, the head of Bouquets for SABC 3, heard of Beeldskoon was when the Weekend Argus told her about it.

“On behalf of SABC 3, we are not aware of this title. Our schedules are done in advance,” she said.

Model Meghan Prins described the show as a “messy production”.

Megan Scholtz, the production manager and scout, quit midway through filming. 

She said: “The very first alarm bell for me was when we went three days without equipment. Also, I found it extremely strange that we were constantly ‘hustling’ to feed the girls daily. But the biggest alarm bell for me was when we had finished recording in Stellenbosch and I was due my first payment. There were excuses every single day as to why it was not forthcoming.”

Ricardo Marnewick, the show’s director of photography, claims he was paid only half his salary.

“I’m still waiting for the other half. I can’t get hold of him (Alfred), his phone is off.”

Chesne Stevens says he is still owed money by Alfred from a previous model discovery project in 2015.

“My salon, Zanzibar hair and beauty salon, did the ladies’ hair and stuff."

Stevens has instituted legal action against Alfred.

Most of the filming for Beeldskoon took place in Stellenbosch and Camps Bay.

The bill at the first venue, Rosenview Guesthouse, was not paid.

Alfred and his crew then gained access to one of the finest Atlantic Seaboard properties after Alfred wrote a letter stating: “We are fundes (sic) by the government. Projects I created over the past three years with minimum or no resources earned me a Mayoral Award and Igniter award."

“Now we would (like) to show transformation by having the models experience the lifestyle of the rich and famous."

“We would like the models to live in a stunning Villa until May 22.”

The price tag for the six-night sojourn was R76 000, which included a R25 000 breakage deposit. This amount was due by May 15.

The manager, who asked to remain anonymous, said the bill had not been paid. She laid a charge at a Cape Town police station on Thursday.

Mayor Patricia de Lille’s office said Alfred had not received a mayoral award or any endorsement.

Alfred has deactivated his Facebook account and stopped responding to e-mails and his phone number is no longer in use.

When the Weekend Argus tracked him down he said: “Everyone has been paid.”

“The show is in post-production.”

“I am not a liar. I kept a lot of stuff away from people, because I didn’t want to disappoint them.”

Alfred expressed surprise at the outstanding bill for the Camps Bay villa. “I am under the impression that that was paid.”

He confirmed he was served a summons for failure to pay for the accommodation in Stellenbosch. Alfred said his “business partner”, Bevan Fransch, had been “responsible for payments”.

But Fransch, a former professional footballer, said he only found out about the outstanding accommodation bills this week. However, the Weekend Argus has seen SMSes to the contrary.

Alfred said he was not hiding. “Everybody knows where I am living - because everybody comes to braai here all the time."

“We had all our team meetings and stuff here at my house.”

As for the SMS competition, Alfred said: “Unfortunately, we didn’t make any money with the SMS competition."

“We are trying to get the money together now to buy the vehicle to give to the winner of our production and to give to the winner of our SMS competition.”

Alfred maintained the show was in post-production and would be submitted to the SABC for consideration.

Weekend Argus