Haarhoff daughter tells all

Gert van Rooyen and Francina ‘Joey’ Haarhoff Picture: Sunday Times archive
Gert van Rooyen and Francina ‘Joey’ Haarhoff Picture: Sunday Times archive

No one will ever know for sure what happened to the six little girls believed to have been kidnapped, sexually assaulted and murdered by Gert van Rooyen and his lover Joey Haarhoff in Pretoria more than 25 years ago.

However, a new book, Mishandel, Misbruik, Misken – available in English as Battered, Abused, Shamed, aims to give a glimpse into the kind of person Haarhoff was before she and Van Rooyen committed suicide on the run from police in 1990.

Lapa Publishers and Fogarty’s Bookshop will host the Port Elizabeth launch of the book by journalist Carla van der Spuy, in conjunction with Haarhoff’s daughter Amor van der Westhuyzen, on Thursday.

Only Van der Spuy will be at the launch.

Haarhoff and Van Rooyen were linked to the kidnapping of six young girls in 1990 after a seventh girl was kidnapped and taken to Van Rooyen’s house, but managed to escape. Her tip-off led to a police swoop on their house, one of the first to be dubbed “the house of horrors”.

Even without proof – as they died before police could question them – the word paedophile has been branded into the names Gert van Rooyen and Joey Haarhoff.

And despite the horrific stories of children imprisoned, molested or killed over the decades since – think of Austria’s Josef Fritzl, for example, which led to the book Room – the story of Van Rooyen and Haarhoff still makes the hair rise on the necks of many South Africans.

Afrikaans journalist Van der Spuy has interviewed Van der Westhuyzen extensively and together they have come up with a harrowing insight into what it was like to live with the smiling, blonde “tannie”.

The title alone shows what she was subjected to.

The launch will be at 5.30 for 6pm at the GFI Gallery in Park Drive. Inquiries: (041) 368-1425 or fogartys@global.co.za

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