How Joey Haarhoff’s Daughter overcame her Legacy

Amor with Carla van der Spuy who wrote the book. Photo: Provided

Amor (right) with Carla van der Spuy, author of Battered, Abused, Shamed. Photo: Provided

Today Amor van der Westhuyzen can call herself a survivor. As the daughter of the notorious Joey Haarhoff, mistress of the paedophile and suspected serial killer Gert “Bokkie” van Rooyen she has been through purgatory.

The bad years did not end on 16 January 1990 when Van Rooyen shot Haarhoff and himself. They reverberated until June this year when the book on Amor’s life Battered, Abused, Shamed appeared and sold out in a wink of an eye.

It was the catharsis, Amor says quietly. Being a wife, mother, grandmother, pastor and the owner of a coffee shop in Thabazimbi means that she is just about over-extended but she makes time to talk to Melkbos.net in between her tasks.

Battered, Abused, ShamedA conscious decision to care
That’s what Amor does, see. She cares. She took a conscious decision to live a life of love although she did not know it growing up under Joey’s shadow. “No, no-one helped me,” she says of her abusive girlhood. “The family didn’t, the teachers didn’t. I was alone throughout the whole thing. But my two grandmothers and one grandfather set an example for me that would influence my life in later years.”

‘Van Rooyen did not change my mother’
Amor was 23-years-old when her mother met Van Rooyen. She explains, “My mother had never been a drinker but she started drinking. I suspect that he got her addicted to some drug. But Gert van Rooyen did not change my mother, she embodied what she did.”

Bizarrely Haarhoff, who procured young girls for Van Rooyen, urged Amor to marry the nattily dressed building contractor. Amor refused. Looking back she says simply, “I believe that God protected me because there were so many times that I should have died.”

Joey Haarhoff and Gert van Rooyen.

Joey Haarhoff and Gert van Rooyen. Photo: Southcoastherald.co.za

Amor decided to tell her story in order to help other people. She advises people in dire situations:
“No-one can heal without the help of God.
You have to choose to trust people again.
You have to change your way of thinking.
If you remain a victim of your past you will not be healed. My life was hellish for many years. This continued even after I started working and got married. I was in my thirties when I accepted Jesus into my life. That’s when my life started improving slowly but surely – it did not happen overnight.
You have to have an overpowering desire to be healed and you must not stop before this has been accomplished.
Read, and read. I read a lot. I had to retrain my mind from scratch. I had to be reborn like a baby.”

Battered, Abused, Shamed is available at all good bookshops. It is available in Afrikaans as Mishandel, Misbruik, Misken