The affordable education loan option
Pretoria - As frail-looking Joost van der Westhuizen was wheeled down Madiba Street to a waiting car, followed by scores of photographers and journalists, parking attendants along the way watched the media hype with interest and asked “who is that man?”
But to thousands of South Africans, this rugby legend remains a hero, as was evident when Joost made his way into the Palace of Justice in Pretoria on Tuesday, where he was due to ask Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann for an urgent order barring the release of a book on his life by former celebrity journalist Gavin Prins.
Word quickly spread among lawyers and advocates that Joost was in the building, and even court personnel came out of their offices to get a closer look at the former rugby star.
Surrounded by a few friends, Joost waited in a corner of the foyer while his legal team - lawyer Ferdinand Hartzenberg and advocate Francois Botes - attended the calling of the urgent roll to establish when the case would be heard.
But being number 42 on the roll, Judge Bertelsmann told Botes it was best they return on Wednesday as the roll was too congested for their case to be heard on Tuesday. Only matters that urgently needed orders could be accommodated, and Prins’s team said it would be sufficient if an order was obtained before Friday.
The book, titled Joost and Amor, Behind the Headlines, was due to be distributed to retailers by the start of this week, but this was put on hold until the end of the week, pending the outcome of Joost’s appeal to have it banned from hitting the shelves.
As he is wheelchair-bound, Joost had to enter and exit the court building via a side door, where he was met by flashing cameras. He declined to speak to the media and appeared unfazed by the lights flashing in his face.
He was expected to be back on Wednesday, with his team telling Judge Bertelsmann that by adding stress to his condition - he is suffering from motor neuron disease - his life expectancy could be shortened.
“He (Prins) is merely seeking sensation from a dying man,” Joost said in papers before court.
He made it clear that a book about his life with his estranged wife Amor Vittone would exacerbate his medical condition and could possibly shorten the time he still had with his two small children, Jordan, nine, and Kylin, seven.
While the book is expected to open old wounds, such as the sex-video scandal that had tongues wagging in 2009, Joost said he “cringed” when he thought of the marketing hype for this book. “… my private life has been discussed ad nauseam in the media,” he said.
According to him, his privacy should now be respected.
But Prins, who described himself as a confidant and personal friend of Joost, said he had every right to write and publish a book on the couple, once known as the “Posh and Becks of South Africa”.
Besides, Prins said, he would lose about R200 000 in expected royalties if the book was canned.
He emphasised that neither Joost nor Amor shied away from having their private lives aired in the public domain, and said Joost had even recently claimed in public that he was now healthy.
Joost made everything about his life a public issue and thus had no reasonable expectation of privacy, he said. Amor had no problem with the book and even wished him well with it, he added.
Amor was not at court on Tuesday, nor was she cited as a party to the proceedings.