Court gives 'Joost & Amor' book the green light

Former Springboks player Joost van der Westhuizen and Amor Vittone. (Gallo)

Former Springboks player Joost van der Westhuizen and Amor Vittone. (Gallo)

Former Springbok rugby player Joost van der Westhuizen's urgent application to stop the publication and distribution of a tell-all book about him was dismissed with costs on Friday.

In a judgment handed down in the high court in Pretoria, Judge Eberhard Bertelsmann said Van der Westhuizen had not established any right to such drastic inroads into freedom of expression.

The case was brought to court on Tuesday. Ferdi Hartzenberg, Van der Westhuizen's attorney, said last week that the health of his client, who has advanced motor neuron disease, could be adversely affected by the publication of the book, written by journalist Gavin Prins.

He said publisher Random House Struik's secrecy surrounding its content had forced him to approach the court to halt publication.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday the high court heard that Van der Westhuizen could not rely on his right to privacy to stop the publication of the book.

Frank Snyckers SC, for Prins and publishers Random House Struik, said Van der Westhuizen had actively kept his personal life in the public sphere.

Van der Westhuizen had not shown that Prins's book would infringe on his rights to privacy, dignity or life, he said at the time.

Thousands of copies
Motor neuron disease is a fatal disease that attacks the motor neurons in the brain and spine, which regulates breathing, speech, swallowing, walking and gripping.

The former Springbok player has been in a wheelchair for some time and was unable to sign his affidavit.

He asked the court for a final interdict to prohibit Prins and Random from printing, publishing, distributing or marketing the book.

Prins said at the time that 10 000 copies of the book had already been printed and were about to be distributed when Van der Westhuizen went to court.

Van der Westhuizen has accused Prins, who was the former celebrity reporter for a Sunday newspaper and is now deputy editor at Heat, of "seeking sensation from the circumstances of a dying man".

Prins claimed in court papers he was a friend and confidante of Van der Westhuizen and entertainer Vittone.

Sex video
The couple's break-up following the revelation of a sex video featuring Van der Westhuizen received wide publicity, and he eventually confessed to being the man in the video in his authorised 2009 autobiography.

Van der Westhuizen said in court papers he still had a right to privacy, despite the fact that he was well known.

"A book about my life, in the light of my current circumstances with an estranged wife and two young children, has started to put undue pressure on me and is creating tension in my life.

"The fact that I have to bring this application already creates unnecessary stress in my life.

"This book has already had an adverse effect on my health.

"The effect of this is that I will have fewer days with my children and no right or privilege can be stronger than this," he said. – Sapa

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