Beauty queen sues pageant organisers

Saumya Gautam receiving the keys to the VW Jetta she won, she says she still hasnt received the car.

The Century City woman who won the Mrs India South Africa pageant is suing the organisers for failing to cough up the prizes.

Saumya Gautam won the title in Durban on August 25, but the organisers stripped her of her crown after she sued them for R1.4 million.

Pageant operations director Deon Ganas said Dr Gautam had breached her contract and brought the pageant into disrepute by “making false allegations”.

But the Mumbai-born Dr Gautam has refused to give up her crown. She has accused the organisers of going back on their agreement and changing the rules as they go.

“After winning the crown, I started promoting the brand and going to events and doing my duties as Mrs India South Africa. I was promised prizes worth R500 000 and a brand new VW Jetta.

“When I kept asking them for the prizes, they gave me stories and also told me that they would not be giving me the car to have but it was for me to use for the year or during my reign.

“After I kept asking them about the prizes, I started receiving threatening messages from Mr Ganas. He told me that I am bringing the pageant into disrepute, even though for the past two months I have been doing my duties and promoting the brand positively,” she said.

According to her, the pageant organisers sent her a letter saying that she has been disqualified and relieved of her crown.

“I am refusing to give up my crown because I believe that I have not done anything wrong.

The pageant owners are trying to use this as a ploy not to honour their agreement of the prizes. I have applied for a court interdict against them, and I should be getting it tomorrow (Wednesday, October 31).

I am also suing them for R1.4 million because of lost wages. Dr Gautam was a medical intern at Tygerberg hospital when she entered the pageant in March.

She is currently unemployed and said she had declined a job opportunity when she entered and won the pageant.

She claimed to have suffered a loss of R50 000 per month (from July 2018 to January 1, 2019) and is claiming R350 000 in damages, R15 000 for a brochure she allegedly purchased from the organisers, R17 000 for the registration and entrance fee, interest on the amounts she is claiming at a rate of 10% per annum, and the legal costs.

“I feel like I have to keep fighting for what is right and expose these pageant people for what they are because by them disqualifying me, they are misleading the public. I will stand for what I believe in.”

Mr Ganas said Dr Gautam had known the car would be leased and that she would have only had use of it for the duration of her year-long reign.

He denied threatening her and said the organisers were well within their rights to strip her of her title.

“We will fight this all the way because she is misleading people by claiming that we had agreements which aren’t true.

She knew that the R500 000 in prizes was for the collective top three and not just for the winner.

“We also found out that she wants the R500 000 in cash and not in prizes. She seemed like a good human being in the beginning, but now she seems like a different person,” he said.

Mr Ganas said they would be filing their own court papers in defence.