Cape Town gym rocked by allegations of sexual misconduct by co-owner

10 September 2022 - 17:37 By Tanya Steenkamp
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The coach is accused of using his cellphone to film a woman in the showers.
The coach is accused of using his cellphone to film a woman in the showers.
Image: 123RF/Kantver

A tight-knit gym community in Cape Town has been shocked by revelations that a trusted coach allegedly used a cellphone to film a female member in the showers.

The coach is a respected trainer and co-owner of the business which has attracted professional athletes.

In a message sent to gym members, he said, “It is with deep shame and regret that I confess to you I violated the privacy of a person, who is not only a member ... but also a friend who trusted me implicitly.”

The alleged victim was being trained and mentored by the coach.

The incident took place about two weeks ago when the member left the shower and noticed a cellphone pointed towards her in a bathroom cubicle. Initially she believed someone had left it there by accident. When she picked it up, she realised it had been recording her and who it belonged to.

The coach tried to apologise but she left the gym.

Various members and coaches refused to comment on the matter this week while others expressed shock and disbelief.

“There's so much respect for this man and everyone's really shocked. This is devastating and I feel disgusted,” said one female member who did not want to be named.

Since the incident, the gym's other co-owner has not made a statement on the matter and refused to comment when contacted on Saturday by TimesLIVE.

In a message sent by her to one of the gym coaches, she called the co-owner’s behaviour, “disturbing” and said his reckless actions had jeopardised her stake in the business.

The female member, who asked not to be identified, said, “I am angered that the two owners have abandoned their team and provided no support or remorse for what happened.”

She called the owners' apology hollow and said, “It goes way beyond an invasion of privacy, it's sexual assault. I pray that these videos have not been shared with others. How many are there? Who else did he film? I feel ill thinking what he used them for.”

The gym informed members the coach would offer a public apology on Saturday but it was later postponed. Instead, an open forum was held for members to voice their feelings and thoughts.

The message reads: “We have decided to postpone [the apology by the coach] and rather replace it with a much-needed forum for the community to voice their feelings and thoughts in a productive manner. We feel the need for an outlet right now is more important for our community. We understand there are people that want to address [him] in person and there will still be an opportunity for that, just at a later stage.” A counsellor was present to mediate the situation for members.

At the meeting on Saturday some members said they would no longer be paying fees or supporting the gym.

A coach at the gym declined to comment but said, “If the victim wants to speak out or [coach] wants to speak out that's up to them.”

He added, “I'm respecting people's privacy and their journey right now. My focus is on the people of the gym at the moment.”

Word of the incident spread like wildfire in the gym community and someone who previously attended the gym and asked to remain anonymous, said, “There's a big hero worship thing that goes on ... It's a big deal because the gym kind of revolves around him.”

The coach has since been removed from gym WhatsApp groups and is no longer running the gym's social media  page.

In his apology letter to members, he said: “I commit to seeking professional counsel to address the causes that may have given rise to my regrettable action. To instil a sense of comfort for you and set a path towards healing, forgiveness and reconciliation, I am taking a leave of absence with immediate effect until further decisions and actions have been concluded.”

Efforts were made to contact a coach who was updating members of developments but he did not respond to phone calls or messages. TimesLIVE could also not reach the coach who apologised for his actions. He deactivated his social media accounts late on Thursday.

TimesLIVE

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