‘Wedding war’ leaves two bruised parties

BIG DAY: Bride Nokuthula Moiloa-Pepese and the love of her life, Mayedwa Pepese, on their happy wedding day, and, left, photographer Erna Loock
BIG DAY: Bride Nokuthula Moiloa-Pepese and the love of her life, Mayedwa Pepese, on their happy wedding day, and, left, photographer Erna Loock

Bride and photographer locked in long-running dispute on websites

A LONG-RUNNING wedding album “war” between a bride and a photographer which has raged on consumer websites, has left both parties smarting: a newlywed still without her special memories and a businesswoman taking a client knock.

public relations agent also says the 18-month row has highlighted what damage can be done to people’s professional reputations through accusatory posts on social media.

When Nokuthula Moiloa- Pepese married the love of her life, Mayedwa Pepese, in September 2013 at the picturesque Slipperfields event venue just outside Port Elizabeth, the then bride-to-be enlisted Jeffreys Bay photographer Erna Loock to capture the couple’s nuptials.

“I paid the full amount of nearly R10 000 before the wedding,” claims Moiloa-Pepese.

The wedding memorabilia allegedly promised included 855 unwatermarked photographs, a 24-page hardcover photo-book and a video highlights DVD.

But Moiloa-Pepese said she only received a link to online photographs in January last year – four months after the wedding – and was informed by Loock the outstanding items would be delivered in due course.

Moiloa-Pepese and her husband then left Port Elizabeth and moved to Cape Town where they have been living ever since.

Moiloa-Pepese claims since the initial online link to her photos was received, she received nothing else until February 25 this year – 17 months after the wedding – which included additional photographs and a DVD containing highlights from the wedding day.

A few months ago, MoiloaPepese took the matter further and posted numerous messages – described by the photographer’s agent as “slanderous” – on social media platforms such as Hellopeter and ConsumerSA.

According to Loock’s brand consultant and public relations representative, Roy Booyens, “social media has given ordinary citizens the power to slander people and businesses and this is not fair”.

With what she considered an online smear campaign gaining speed, Loock took the matter to her legal representative and since then there has been a stalemate between the two parties.

According to Booyens, during the time leading up to February 25 Loock and her lawyers, who were now involved in the matter, had difficulty locating Moiloa-Pepese to forward the outstanding items.

Booyens says the contract between the two parties was specific and, “the complainant did not fulfil her end of the bargain” by not conveying which pictures she wanted in her photo-book.

When Moiloa-Pepese was contacted by Loock’s representatives, she was offered an online voucher to compile her own photo-book but refused and demanded a full cash refund for the photo-book.

According to Booyens, “the slanderous manner in which this matter has been handled has led to a decline in Loock’s client base and has had a direct impact on her business dealings”.

When Weekend Post was contacted by Moiloa-Pepese, follow ups with those involved revealed a nasty tug-of- words initiated by not one, but two disgruntled brides.

Moiloa-Pepese was backed up by another bride who claimed to have a similar story but that bride has since retracted her online complaints and has signed a gag order with Loock’s public relations representatives.

Loock has now agreed to refund Moiloa-Pepese the full R850 for the photo-book and supply her with “all RAWS (in .NEF format) of the wedding day taken on DVD [not included in original quote] and a further 195 edited images on DVD” by Monday. Moiloa-Pepese has agreed to collect the items from Booyens’ office and review them before signing a document stating she has done so and will no longer pursue further media attention through social media, consumer websites or printed publications.

Moiloa-Pepese, who is in Cape Town, says she will enlist the assistance of her sister to collect the items.

“Once my sister has viewed the photos and reverts back to me and I’m 100% happy with everything, I will then sign and e-mail this agreement . . . and thereafter remove the online complaints I’ve made re[garding] Erna Loock,” said Moiloa-Pepese.

-Devon Koen

Photographer Erna Loock
Photographer Erna Loock

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