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Joost lookalike admits: 'It can be embarrassing'

2018-01-17 16:23
 Marthinus Steyn, Joost Van der Westhuizen
Marthinus Steyn, Joost Van der Westhuizen (Photo: Supplied/Gallo)

Cape Town - Some people boast about resembling certain celebrities but for Marthinus Steyn of Pretoria, who bears a strong resemblance to late rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen, it can sometimes be a little bit awkward.

Marthinus (43), a car salesman at MBA Auto in Pretoria, smiles shyly as we meet with him at the Villieria open air restaurant in Pretoria. Especially in the time before Joost's illness struck, people would often mistake him for the former Blue Bulls player.

They'd stop him in the street and ask him for his autograph.

"It's an honour to resemble Joost, but sometimes it was also embarrassing," explains Marthinus.

"It was so bad at times I didn't even want to go to the shops," he says."I'd just keep my head down, quickly get what I needed and head out. But I could still feel people staring at me."

There were some comical incidents as well, says Marthinus. Like when that infamous video of Joost was uncovered and Marthinus was working in Rustenburg. 

A pregnant woman walked into the motor car dealership and demanded to know if I was Joost.

"I had to show her my ID to calm her down and prove to her that I wasn't him," he says.

"But then she accused me of being the one in the video saying that Joost was now taking the fall for my behaviour. She was ready to hit me!"

Then there was the time Marthinus was on holiday in Durban and a group of people at the hotel wanted to know where Amor was.

"I played along and told them she was upstairs in the room busy with her makeup and that she'd come down soon. Those people stood in front of the hotel waiting to see Amor all morning."

Around the time when Joost became wheelchair-dependent, Marthinus walked into a shopping centre in Rustenburg. An elderly man started following him. Outside the centre the man took him by the shoulder and said: "Miracles still do happen Joost. You're walking!"

In a more outlandish incident, which took place shortly after Joost's death, Marthinus was in a shop when he saw a man poke his wife in the ribs, point to him and ask, "But didn't this man die yesterday?" 

These days he doesn't get approached by strangers anymore, but he still gets constant stares. "It's really not nice. I didn't ask to look like him," Marthinus says.

As we say our goodbyes, Marthinus takes a minute to look around him before he gets up and quickly leaves the restaurant.