Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Athena van Heerden + Emelia Vermeulen [Exerpts from My Little Black Book]
In March 2010 Athena van Heerden, a brunette based in Cape Town whom I had previously photographed, failed to turn up for a shoot we arranged [I drove from Johannesburg to Cape Town for it].
Athena van Heerden has since issued me with death threats, phoned me at all hours, and had various people call me with threatening messages. Despite the fact that she didn't turn up for her own shoot, she has accused me of harassing her [for calling her on the day of her shoot to find out where she was].
The number of threatening messages from Athena van Heerden has grown since and thus I have started to log them on this page.
[Pictured above: Athena van Heerden came to my Johannesburg studio for what was supposed to be a second shoot in September 2009 but that didn't happen either as she decided she wasn't in the mood and wanted to kuier instead.]
06 May 21:12 from Athena. SMS.
1 May 00:19 [Saturday] from 076 909 3006 [Mike Bester]. SMS.
1 May 00:17 from 076 909 3006 [Mike Bester]. I answered the call. Man, sounding inebriated, identifies himself again as Mike Bester says "I'm no longer with Athena, haven't been with her for 2 weeks...and did you send me a fucking MMS etc etc." He talks nonsense for about two minutes before hanging up.
30 April at 23:42 from 076 909 3006 : Voicemail: "...I'm not with Athena anymore...and the MMS [garbled]...obviously you're fucking sizing up the wrong person...so if you've got the balls phone me directly you little fucking cunt." [This call completely out of the blue, from her ex - Mike Bester, the 2nd call from this guy. I've never contacted him and now he's making a habit of contacting me aswell.]
27 April [a holiday] at 5:24pm: Athena called, I didn't answer.
26 April at 6:42pm: Crank call from her saying in a slightly muffled voice - "Goeie dag meneer van der Leek, dis pro Equity in Pretoria, hoe gaan dit...?"
Saying 'goeie dag' at 6:42pm and the sound of her voice kinda gave the game away.
I said: "Pro Equity?" - and she must have picked that up because she immediately hung up.
Received this comment on 23 April from Athena van Heerden claiming I tried to 'kill her'.
[On Facebook she claimed that I 'abuse women'].
Most recent threatening messages from Athena [23 April]: jy lol nie met Athena van Heerden nie, ek waarsku jou, daar is ander mense daar buite
me: is dit 'n dreigement?
Athena: nee, waarskuwing vir jou veiligheid
Athena: hou net jou keelgat mooi toe in n serp
YOU ARE THE SICKEST PERSON I EVER MET.
YOUR WHOLE ARTICLE IS FALSE.
I WISH THE GENERAL PUBLIC KNEW HOW YOU WANTED "TO KILL ME", SWORN AT ME, TREATED ME WITH DISRESPECT AS A HUMAN BEING AND FORCING YOUR WAY UPON WOMEN IN CAPE TOWN.
NOBODY WANTS TO WORK WITH YOU, AS YOU ONLY WANT MONEY FOR PHOTOGRAPHY THAT IS NOT THAT EXCEPTIONAL AT ALL.
GO LIVE IN AUSTRALIA, WHERE YOU WILL SOON CATCH UP WITH THE AUTHORITIES ON YOUR CASE AGAIN.
ATHENA VAN HEERDEN - YOUR LITTLE BLACK BOOK FICTIONAL CHARACTER.
Received this message from Athena on 23 April via sms, apparently in response to this blog post:
Ek gaan jou opvok! Jy hou nog nie op met jou kak nie. Jy dink jy is slim, arroganise is onnosel se tweede naam.
And this on gmail: Athena: jy hou nog nie op my jou kak nie
And this: het in elk geval jou Satan boeke verbrnd
At 13:00 on the 23rd, a call from this number: 076 909 3006, claiming to be her boyfriend Mike Bester with 'baie geld', saying again that they were going to the police.
Interestingly, I promised both of these girls that I would expose them publicly for their dishonesty and for the lack of a more appropriate term without using an expletive, bad manners.
A few weeks ago I made an arrangement with Athena - a brunette that I'd once photographed near Langebaan - to do a second, follow up shoot. We had discussed various locations and themes and this phone call on the 19th of March was meant to confirm time, place and money.
Our history was that we'd done a good shoot together which, she said, had allowed her to get roles in films and commercials and she was considering a change in her career as a result [something she alluded to on Facebook] - so a real life changer for her. I'd suggested she stick with her current work until the absolute last moment, something I believe she saw the sense in. She also visited me once at my studio home in Johannesburg with the idea of doing a shoot - instead we drank wine and discussed religion. I did manage to persuade her to pose for a few minutes. She also managed to persuade me to part with some books on my bookshelf that I consider collectibles.
Over the phone on the 19th Athena said she couldn't afford to pay me the full amount for our shoot, but then agreed to pay me half on the day [Monday March 22] and the remaining half when she got paid her wages. On Sunday she was shooting a commercial for Opel and I suggested we meet on Sunday afternoon for a final discussion. I must point out that I don't normally do this, but in Athena's case she was in Gauteng once for 3 weeks and kinda strung me along for the entire period. So I felt I had to make absolutely sure there were no excuses.
She offered accomodation at her place, but not on the Saturday as her parents were still there. This was for me a peculiar part of the arrangement and I told her that I'd be fine staying at my aunt in Hout Bay.
I drove down to Cape Town from Bloemfontein at around 4am on about 2 hours sleep and arrived at around 2pm. After conducting interviews with Allan Shearer and Dame Kelly Holmes I tried to contact my aunt and cousins [it was my cousin's birthday and they live in a similar area to Athena] to no avail.
Paragraph six already. Let's speed this up. I made one or two calls to Athena on Sunday afternoon since we'd talked about meeting up in advance of the Monday shoot. It was then that she started responding with sms' hinting that she was busy. She also said she 'might' do a shoot on Tuesday, something I found weird because I specifically arranged our shoot on a holiday since I was under the impression she was working.
Probably half a dozen sms followed [she insisted on not answering her phone]in which she claimed she was working out of town [on Sunday/on a holiday]. I finally called her on Monday, the day of the shoot, and she answered. She admitted she was at home and about to go out to meet some friends. I asked her why she'd said she was out of town? She said the suburb couldn't be said to be part of the city of Cape Town.
I asked her about our arrangements. She then threw the book at me, saying that I hadn't come down to Cape Town to see her, I had come to interview other celebrities. She said her modelling agency had forbidden her from paying me, and I would have to get their permission. She also said I would need their permission to photograph her. The irony is of course that she said she used my photos, without my permission, to get all the commercial offers she has since received. That's fine of course, until you turn the thing around when it suits you. Then I care about the abuse of my time and effort.
So I contacted a chap at her agency and he said it was nonsense that I needed their permission for anything - in fact they had been begging her to do another test shoot. The manager there also admitted she's 'very hard to pin down'. Later that afternoon I received a phone call from an investigator with SAPS saying Athena had complained that I was harassing her. I admitted that I had called her and sms'd her a few times, but I said, if you make an arrangement, and the other person doesn't cancel or has led you down the garden path, and won't answer the phone, any reasonable person is going to try to establish proper communication to find out what is really happening. The investigator changed his mind some minutes later, saying she was defeating the ends of justice and manipulating the law to serve her purposes. He said if I wanted to lay a charge against her I was free to do so.
I said to him my main priority was to get my books back. I'd asked her over the phone to leave them in a public place somewhere and I'd come and collect them. Instead she opened a case at the police station, accused me of harassment, and left the books there for me to collect - an obvious entrapment. As such, I still don't have the books she took.
The sad epilogue to this story is that my other leads in Cape Town were also flip floppy, with the exception of Emilia Vermeulen [she appears in this month's COSMO]. She said she wanted to do a test in lingerie or a bikini or both, but here's the clincher. She wanted me to do it for free. A Paris-based model? I asked her if she ever goes to a garage and asks if she can have free petrol, or free bread at the local bakery? So why do photographers constantly get asked to work for free?
I said I'd think about it, and when I called back I said I'd do it [she'd add to my portfolio if nothing else]. Some hours later, noticing the deteriorating weather, I suggested three different times during the next day when we might do the shoot. It was basically either morning, noon or late afternoon. The risk was that if I called her in the afternoon without prior arrangement she might say, "Oh gosh, I've just gone out to have coffee with someone, can't we do it another day." Obviously if I didn't call her at a prior arranged time it meant she was free for a few hours until the next time slot came up. She complained saying she wasn't going to be on standby the whole day for me, and then said she didn't want to do the shoot and blamed my bad attitude.
Over the Easter Weekend, about 2 weeks after these incidents in Cape Town, my Facebook profile, with literally hundreds of photos loaded, over 800 contacts, all gone. According to Facebook:
It is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to harass users on the site.
Labels: Athena van Heerden