Insider look decades after paedophile crimes horrified SA
Author Carla van der Spuy spent four exhausting days holed up in a B&B with the emotional but brave daughter of one of South Africa’s most reviled women.
But what has emerged from it is a glimmer of hope and help against a backdrop of a series of appalling crimes that haunt the country to this day.
It is 26 years since notorious paedophile and serial killer Gert van Rooyen and his partner, Joey Haarhoff, abducted and apparently murdered at least six young girls between 1988 and 1989.
Their suspected victims, whose images became engraved in people’s minds, were never found because the infamous couple committed suicide as police closed in after the escape of their last abduction victim in 1990.
As Haarhoff’s daughter, Amor van der Westhuyzen, poured out her heart to Van der Spuy about her direct, personal connection to the pair who took their horrendous secrets to the grave, the basis of a book – released last month – was born.
Van der Spuy is touring South Africa with her first biography, Battered, Abused, Shamed. Joey HaarhoffWas My Mother.
“When Amor told me her story it was very emotional because of all the abuse that she went through,” Van der Spuy said. “She was so honest and didn’t hold back on anything – she even revealed her own dark side and how aggressive she became. “She cried and exposed herself a lot [during the interview],” Van der Spuy said.
Van der Westhuyzen was abused from a young age by her mother and biological father and wanted to tell her tale to motivate and help other women in a similar situation.
“Amor was a victim of abuse as her [biological] father molested her and Joey was aware of this,” Van der Spuy said.
“She wanted to back out of the book at some stage but agreed to continue, to help women who have been molested and abused, to instil hope in them. “She is happy with the book but it took her a decade of therapy to get over and deal with what happened. She has a very strong faith.”
Van der Westhuyzen was 27 when her mother and Van Rooyen committed their heinous crimes, and had already been married.
Van der Spuy said something shocking that stood out for her was a sickening and depraved request from Van der Westhuyzen’s mother.
“At a stage during their relationship, Joey said Amor should divorce her husband and marry Gert and bear children for him, even though Joey was engaged to Gert. “That was one of the more shocking things,” she said.
The book has received overwhelming support. “I believe in the book. We have received such positive feedback from the public and so many people have thanked us for the book. “People would often say something similar happened to them and the book helped them deal with it, so that makes [writing this book] worthwhile,” Van der Spuy said.
The book was originally written in Afrikaans, when 3 000 copies were sold, but it is now in its third print.