For decades Annekie Theron epitomised the superwoman ideal, a typical hands-on mother who treated her colicky baby with rooibos tea and used her rooibos philosophy to build an international business empire.
Annekie founded Annique, and her four children, including colicky baby Lorinda, eventually became involved in the beauty products company, working at its Centurion head office.
It was a modern-day business fairytale with a real South African rooibos flavour – until the lives of the Theron family changed dramatically last June when the sheriff of the court served papers on Anna, her eldest son Henk, daughter Suzette and all the other trustees of the HM Theron and Manna Forever - in which Annique’s assets are tied up.
The summonses were from Lorinda Theron (43), Anna’s youngest. Her colicky baby.
Lorinda accuses her family and other trustees of fraud. But it goes a lot deeper than that because Lorinda now says she was booted out of the position of marketing manager she once held.
She also says the whole foundation on which the company was built is a pack of lies - because it wasn’t her mother who discovered the healing properties of rooibos tea but the Khoisan people centuries earlier.
The family feud has shattered strong businesswoman Annekie, now 81. The stress is getting to her, her oldest three children say. And, according to Henk, she really misses her youngest daughter and three grandchildren, whom she last saw in 2008.
It’s not that rooibos tea doesn’t have healing properties, Lorinda says. But she’s upset her mother makes out she discovered its value.
“My mother’s story begins with a pack of tea she bought in a supermarket but the Khoisan have known of the powers of the plants in the Western Cape for more than 400 years. They discovered the medicinal value of rooibos tea, not my mother.”
Her bitterness also stems from more personal matters. “My mother was an absent mother and played no role when I was growing up. It was my dad who took my sister and me to school, bought the groceries and cooked.”
The other children are quick to defend the family name and take Annekie’s side.
Henk is her oldest brother and she loves him very much, Lorinda says. And while he denies it, she remembers him being the one who fired her. “I don’t know why he hates me so much.”
I don’t hate her at all, is Henk’s stunned reaction. “If her car drew up here now I’d be the first to go out and greet her.”
“We miss our sister,” Suzette says. Behind her the name “Annique” gleams in silver letters on the head office wall.
Read the full article in the YOU of 17 June 2010