Pretoria - Springbok legend Joost van der Westhuizen’s widow Amor Vittone is of the opinion that despite his motor neurone disease in 2015, he was still able to sign a document or at least make a mark on it.
She is vigorously opposing an application by Joost’s brother Pieter van der Westhuizen and lawyer Ferdinand Hartzenberg, who turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to have a will Joost had drawn up in 2015, declared his last wish.
The problem with this will is that it was not signed by Joost at the time, but by Hartzenberg instead, who acted as commissioner of oaths. The master of the high court rejected this will and said it was not legal, as it could not have been signed by Hartzenberg.
The will had been a bone of contention since Van der Westhuizen’s death in February last year. In terms of this will Pieter is appointed as the executor.
Van der Westhuizen’s belongings were bequeathed to his two children - Jordan, 13, and Kylie, 11, and half of Van der Westhuizen’s interest in the Dainfern home in which Amor and the children live, will go into the trust of the J9 Foundation. The other half of the property is registered in Amor’s name.
The legal glitch, however, caused the master not to accept the 2015 will as being legal, rejecting it because Joost did not sign it. It was said by Hartzenberg that Van der Westhuizen was at that time too weak from motor neurone disease to sign it.
The master, at a meeting in May, indicated that he was of the opinion that Van der Westhuizen’s last will did not fully comply with the required formalities as prescribed in the Wills Act. He said he had no choice, but to reject it.
This left the will which Van der Westhuizen and Amor jointly drew up in August 2009, as the rugby legend’s valid testament.
In terms of that will Amor, to whom he was still married to in community of property at the time of his death, would also inherit.
Amor, in her answering affidavit said she did not admit that he could not sign the document at the time, if he wanted to do so.
“Despite the fact that we were separated, is the fact that he stayed just down the road from me in Dainfern. The children saw him regularly and he would visit my house where he had supper, which I fed him.
“His muscle movements were affected, but not to such an extent that he could not append his signature or a mark on the will.”
She said Van der Westhuizen was at that time still able to walk, aided by a “reciprocating gait orthosis” device. He also attended various functions to promote motor neurone disease awareness. He was for instance inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in Dubai. She said he was also able to operate his electric wheelchair.
She said it was also peculiar that Hartzenberg only submitted the 2015 will to the master three months after Van der Westhuizen’s death.
She said there was a valid will (the 2009 one) and there was no reason to deviate from it.
“The only major consequence of the 2009 will is that one half share of Joost’s estate in the immovable property is to be inherited by myself. In terms of the 2015 will this share is bequeathed to the J9 Trust.
“If this situation endures, I foresee further animosity.
“It may very well be necessary for me to sell the Dainfern property due to financial constraints Some of the clauses of the 2015 will also have the effect of Joost ‘ruling from the grave’.”
One of the clauses include that the trust had to see to it that his two children have a good relationship with his parents and his brothers. But according to Amor, they decided “not to foster a good relationship” with the children.