A high court judge in Pretoria has lashed singer Amor Vittone’s denial that her late husband, rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen, was no longer able to hold a pen when he drew up a new will as “scandalous” and her conduct towards him as “lacking respect and compassion”.
Judge Hans Fabricius yesterday granted an order to Joost’s brother Pieter and attorney Ferdinand Hartzenberg, declaring his 2015 will to be valid and reflecting his last wishes. The master of the high court was instructed to accept the will and appoint Pieter as the executor of his brother’s estate.
Amor was also ordered to the pay the legal costs relating to the application.
In terms of the will Amor inherits only a television set while the bulk of Joost’s estate is left in trust to his children, aged 13 and 11. The will also makes it clear that Amor may not get any direct benefit from the trust and that Joost wanted his children to maintain a good relationship with his parents and brothers.
Amor opposed the application, claiming a 2009 joint will in which she was Joost’s only heir was the only valid will as he had not signed his 2015 will. She claimed he was still able to hold objects in 2015 and would have been able to sign his will and questioned his mental capacity.
Joost died of motor neuron disease in February 2017, but Hartzenberg said his condition had deteriorated to such an extent by 2015 that he could not hold a pen, although there was nothing wrong with his mental abilities and he could still communicate using modern technology and his eye movements.
Judge Fabricius said there was a whole history leading up to the new will, including Joost’s physical and mental condition, which indicated that he knew exactly what he wanted and why. It was strange that Amor, who was Joost’s wife for many years, would not have been able to say how his condition progressed.
He said there was enough evidence that Joost was unable to even hold a trophy presented to him in 2015 and Amor’s denial that he could not hold a pen was “scandalous, to put it lightly”.
As for his mental condition, Amor said nothing about what she observed. She also said nothing about allegations that she had threatened to change the children’s surnames and keep them away from Joost if she was not declared the heir of the entire estate or about Joost setting up a trust because of her undisciplined spending.
The judge remarked that this was not the way to treat someone you once were in love with, or how you should treat your children.
He said it was probably best to say as little as possible about Amor’s affidavit because of issues relating to respect and compassion, adding that he would have expected more than a denial of Joost’s physical and mental condition, which was no defence.
Amor in court papers blamed their break-up on a video allegedly depicting him having sex with another woman, but Hartzenberg said the video was irrelevant and only showed Joost “interacting” with the woman. He said Joost had often complained to him about Amor’s extramarital affairs and was so concerned that there would be nothing left for the children because of her spending habits that he set up the J9 Trust to ensure the children’s finances were properly managed.
He said Joost wanted to go ahead with their divorce in 2015, but kept it back after her father asked him to do so because she did not want negative publicity before the launch of her new CD. His condition deteriorated so badly thereafter that he was no longer able to proceed with the divorce.