Bookshop chain cancels entire order of book on Joost over 'bad publicity'

2017-08-29 11:06
PHOTO: YOU Archive

PHOTO: YOU Archive

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Christian bookshop chain CUM Books on Monday cancelled their entire order of the book that Pieter van der Westhuizen wrote as a tribute to his late brother, Springbok rugby hero Joost van der Westhuizen.

The reason for the cancellation, according to CUM, is the “negative publicity” sprouting from an online report about a revelation in the book, In the Shadow of a Legend.

Pieter, whose publisher, Coenie Schoeman from Carpe Diem, told him about the decision, reacted with shock and disappointment on Monday. In response to YOU’s questions about the incident he said he can’t understand it, since it’s “a Christian book”.

On Tuesday, after thinking the matter over, he said he’d written the book to touch people’s lives and he’d abide by CUM’s decision. “If I can touch one person’s life with Joost’s story, I’ll be content. Even if the book is sold at a corner café, that’s fine by me. I prayed on the matter and asked the Lord that if I could only touch one person’s life with the book, I would’ve reached my goal. It doesn’t matter to me how the person gets a hold of the book.”

Pieter says he wrote the book openly and honestly, even turning down another publisher because he wasn’t comfortable with their approach.

On Tuesday morning Coenie confirmed to YOU that CUM had recalled Pieter’s book. He didn’t provide any other reasons for the decision. The book would have been available in CUM shops from Wednesday 30 August.

By Tuesday morning neither Sua du Plessis, CUM’s publication manager, nor Hannes Meyer, CUM’s product manager, could be reached for comment via email, cellphone or WhatsApp.

Extracts from the book were published in YOU’s most recent issue (31 August), in shops now. In it, Pieter writes about his role as carer for his brother, as well as how the Van der Westhuizen family is coping with the loss of their brother and son. Joost lost his battle with motor neuron disease (MND) in February. He was 45 years old.

In one of the extracts Pieter writes that at one point during his illness it seemed as if Joost was being poisoned. They had to rush him to hospital on two occasions. Pieter placed the incidents in context by saying that the “poisoning” had happened during a time that Joost was so desperate to fight for his life that he’d been trying all kinds of “cures”.

Large quantities of organophosphates – toxic substances found in, amongst other things, insecticides – had been found in Joost’s bloodstream. Joost hadn’t wanted to report it to authorities and Pieter writes in the book that as a result, the family had never found closure on the matter.

On Friday 25 August the Afrikaans news website Netwerk24 published an article based on the book extract in YOU. It was followed later that day with a longer article on organophosphates. These articles apparently unleashed hugely negative reaction on social media – especially toward the Van der Westhuizen family.

Apparently it’s this negative commentary that prompted CUM to cancel their book order. According to their website CUM has more than 40 branches in shopping centres countrywide and also sells books online.


  • Read the full book extract in YOU of 31 August, in shops now
  • In the Shadow of a Legend will still be available in other bookshops countrywide, including Bargain Books and PNA. The Afrikaans version will be available online at
Read more on:    joost van der westhuizen

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