From doctor’s surgeries to coffee bars and supermarket queues, Durban society is abuzz about the revelation that the DA’s “Mr Squeaky Clean”, provincial caucus leader John Steenhuizen, 34, is romantically involved with Terry Kass Beaumont, 24, the provincial spokeswoman for the party.
Beaumont has been married to Michael Beaumont, DA provincial director, for less than six months. Steenhuizen’s infidelity has reportedly devastated his wife, Julie.
The couple have been married for 10 years and have two young daughters. Both Julie Steenhuizen and Michael Beaumont have instituted divorce proceedings, reliable sources said this week.
All four parties have repeatedly declined to comment or discuss with the Sunday Tribune the impact the affair has had on their lives, with Steenhuizen adamant that “my private life is a private matter”.
Julie Steenhuizen would say only: “Please instruct the media that all queries must be directed to my husband.”
Steenhuizen’s assertion that his role as a political animal has no bearing on his conduct in his personal life might be a factor at the coming local government polls, when voters may ask themselves what kind of leadership they would like.
Fellow DA party members have not been shy about voicing their disappointment.
“The timing could not have been more appalling, with the election just around the corner,” said a woman whose identity is known to the Sunday Tribune, but who asked to remain anonymous.
“We all love John dearly but we are very angry; more so with her (Terry) because she appears to have been so calculating. The best thing for John would be to accept a posting to Cape Town.
“This scandal will haunt him for a long time to come. As members of the DA we spend a lot of time claiming the moral high ground. John has given the ruling party a stick, and you can be sure they will beat him with it.”
Before the affair came to light, Steenhuisen’s new partner had posted a series of photographs of the two of them on her Facebook page.
In one, they are laughing as he wheels her in a barrow during a DA refuse cleanup campaign. In another, they sit very closely on a bench, and a third shows them clinking glasses of red wine.
There are also two more provocative shots of Kass Beaumont alone.
“It is desperately sad for Michael,” said the source.
“He was totally in the dark. He would never have proposed marriage had he known Terry had feelings for John.”
News of the relationship reportedly came as a bolt from the blue to the couple’s spouses. Yet it was known in certain circles that the affair predated Kass’s marriage to Beaumont, according to another source, who requested anonymity.
ACDP MP Jo-Ann Downs said she prayed Steenhuizen would come to his senses and repair the damage he had caused.
“Certainly he has committed a grave faux pas, but he might come back from it stronger, and more aware of his personal weaknesses and the pitfalls that lie in wait.
“For me, as a Christian, it is a tragedy. I am praying that he and Julie will reconcile. I can understand how devastated she must be but infidelity does not have to mean the end of a marriage.
“If you look at the Narend Singh debacle (Singh was filmed having sexual relations with a prominent Durban businesswoman in 2006, but both avoided divorce in the wake of the scandal) then it becomes clear you can rebuild a marriage even after a very public mistake.
“I do hope John will decide to work on the issues that have caused his marriage to run into trouble. He has two little children and family is more important than politics. My personal advice would be, ‘step back and focus on your family’”.
A friend of Julie Steenhuizen said she “loves him deeply, but I don’t think she would accept him back. She is so hurt, so humiliated that she is going to walk away. That doesn’t mean she will stop loving him, but the children are her priority”.
“He has broken her heart.”
Robbie and Heather Wright, Julie Steenhuizen’s parents, are said to be “100 percent behind” their daughter.
While they at first agreed to an interview with the Tribune, they decided that they would respect her desire for privacy.
Steenhuizen and Kass Beaumont are reported to be sharing an apartment in Umhlanga.
[email protected] - Sunday Tribune