Marked explicit due to the sexual and graphic nature of the crime.
Like we mentioned last week, our South African listeners have really been showing up lately and we want you to know that we see you guys and appreciate that you are listening. So this week we are going to talk about a case that is infamous in South Africa. It’s a pretty brutal one and there are a lot of gory details so this is your warning before we get into it.
Alison Botha was born September 22, 1967 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. When she was 10 her parents got divorced and she stayed with her mom and older brother, Neale. She went to Collegiate High School for Girls where she graduated as the head girl in 1985. After high school, she took a break for a couple of years. After her time traveling she got a job as an insurance broker and did well at this as she was confident and well spoken.
On December 17, 1994 she spent the afternoon at the beach with friends in Port Elizabeth. After their day at the beach, the group of friends decided to head back to Alison’s apartment to eat pizza and play Balderdash. It was pretty late when everyone left and while they were at her apartment, she had promised her friend Kim that she would take her home. After taking Kim home, she got back to her apartment and found that her parking space that had been right outside her apartment was taken while she was gone. She looked around for another spot within walking distance and found one. . . it was under a big tree that just so happened to block the little bit of light there was. Of course at the time she wasn’t thinking about this, she was just thinking about how much she was looking forward to a nice cool shower and getting to bed after a long day.
Before getting out of her car, she reached over to the passenger seat to get her clean laundry and suddenly felt a gust of warm air. Someone had opened her door and when she looked up she saw a scrawny but tall young man with blond hair holding a knife. In a low matter of fact voice, he said “move over or I’ll kill you.” She was obviously terrified and did what he said. He then got into the driver’s seat and began to drive. He assured her, “I don’t want to hurt you, I just want to use your car for an hour.” She didn’t have any reason not to believe him, so she did.
At this point, Alison has no idea what to do and she considered jumping out of the car, but found herself frozen. She begged the man, who was calling himself Clinton, to let her go and told him he could have the car. But, big surprise, he refused. He said that he had something he needed to do, someone owed him money, and he wouldn’t be long. He drove them to one of the main streets in Port Elizabeth and was looking around for someone frantically. When he spotted him, he called him Theuns and told him to jump in and meet his new friend Alison.
The three of them then drove to the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. This area was entirely deserted and was somewhere her family had always warned her to stay away from. They stopped in the bush and she knew that something bad was going to happen. He obviously wasn’t just borrowing her car, but there’s no way she could have predicted what was going to happen next.
Forewarning there are a lot of details that we’re about to go over and they get pretty intense and it’s a lot.
The men told her they were going to have sex with her and asked if she was going to fight. Doing whatever she could to get through this, she said she wouldn’t. After they raped her, they decided that they would have to kill her. (She describes this a bit differently in her documentary – this is also where she learned “Clinton’s” real name.) They proceeded to suffocate her and she lost consciousness.They didn’t realize though that when you suffocate someone, them losing consciousness doesn’t mean they’ve died. So when they realized that she in fact wasn’t dead, they decided to ramp it up and not only take it to the next level, but skipped past a few levels. They stabbed her in the abdomen at least 30 times with one of them commenting on how he specifically wanted to mutilate her reproductive organs. Despite him saying this, they actually missed all of those organs which is honestly so surprising because with more than 30 stabs what are the odds you somehow miss the exact organs you want to hit?!
After this brutal attack, Alison’s leg twitched. Now, this is actually pretty common and doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is still alive.
Obviously at this point, Alison still being alive should be pretty much impossible, right? Well somehow, someway, when her leg twitched she was by some miracle still alive. After the twitch of her leg, she could see an arm moving above her face. As his arm moved she could hear what was described as a wet sound. She was trying to make sense of what was happening, but she couldn’t feel anything and she was going in and out of consciousness. What she didn’t know was that the sound she had been hearing was her throat being cut. 16 times.
After the men did this they stepped back to “admire their work.” One said, “Do you think she’s dead?” And the other responded, “No one can survive that.” They finally decided they were satisfied and drove away leaving Alison in the middle of nowhere.
What they didn’t know as they left was that she was somehow still breathing. She knew she was dying and as she lay in the sand she knew she needed to do whatever she could to help identify her attackers so that they couldn’t do what they had done to her to someone else. Since they had said their names, she wrote their names in the dirt and below that wrote “I love mom.”
After this experience, she could see headlights approaching in the distance through the bushes. She knew that she was too far from the road for anyone driving by to see her, but thought if she could just make it to the road she might have a chance. She of course considered the fact that the approaching vehicle could be the two men coming back, she knew that this was her best chance.
At this point, she was lying on her stomach and she managed to roll onto her side. Then she felt something slimy coming from her abdomen and realized it was literally her intestines coming out. She was looking around and saw a shirt that had been thrown out of her car, because remember she’d had laundry in her car, and she reached over to grab and used it to hold her insides together. She then somehow gathered the energy to pull herself up and had the realization that while she was standing up, she could see the stars and sky above her and her head was actually between her shoulder blades. Her head was falling backwards because she had nearly been decapitated. She ended up using her hand to literally hold her head up as she moved. So she had one hand on her abdomen with the shirt to hold her intestines in and the other supporting her head. She was literally defying the odds and as she started to move towards the road, her sight was going in and out and she fell multiple times. She wasn’t giving up though and managed to reach the road before collapsing along the white line. Even though she was on the verge of death, holding her insides together and her head onto her body, she had the wherewithal to know that putting herself on the white line would be her best chance at being seen by a passing vehicle.
Not long after, she thought she was about to be saved (unless it was the men coming back) when a car approached and seemed to slow down. Unfortunately, it slowed down, but didn’t stop and they continued down the road leaving her there. She wasn’t there for much longer when a young veterinary student named Tiaan Eilerd, and a couple of his friends, saw her lying in the middle of the road and stopped. He was visiting Port Elizabeth on vacation from Johannesburg and said that “God put me on that road that night for a reason.” When he found her, he saw the state she was in but that she was still breathing.
Tiaan took the shirt off his literal back and used it to cover her naked body. Luckily, one of his friend’s had a cell phone, because in 1994, not many people did, so they were able to call for help. It was approx a 15 minute drive to the hospital, but it took nearly 40 mins for emergency services to arrive. Alison was rushed to the hospital. Her wounds were so horrific that Dr. Alexander Angelov later said that he’d never seen anything like it in his 16 years of practicing medicine.
I was obviously able to give a lot of detail as to what happened and what Alison did even after the attackers left and that’s because despite the impossible odds, she survived. It was not an easy or fast recovery by any means, but despite all the injuries she had and literally holding herself together, she made it. Not only did she make it, but she remembered everything about her attackers too. Because of this, she was able to identify the two men that did this to her from police pictures while she was still in the hospital. They were Frans du Toit (not Clinton as he had said) and Theuns Kruger. According to some sources, they identified as Satanists and were supposedly enacting a ritual on her as an offering to Satan.
Alison’s miraculous survival story was all over the news and the trial became known as the Noordhoek Ripper Trial. The men ended up pleading guilty to all charges which included kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder. They were subsequently convicted and given life sentences in August 1995. Frans’ father couldn’t handle what his son had done, and committed suicide a few years later.
While Alison had survived and her attackers were in jail for life, it wasn’t easy for Alison after the attack. She was severely depressed and unable to go back to her life as before. She quit her job and decided to start fresh, not knowing how to move forward. She looked for opportunities and started giving public speeches for small incentives. She soon began traveling around the world, telling her story. She became the first South African woman to speak publicly about the experience of rape, and in 1995 won the prestigious Rotarian Paul Harris Award for ‘Courage Beyond the Norm’. In the same year, she received Femina magazine’s ‘Woman of Courage’ award, and was announced Port Elizabeth’s Citizen of the Year.
She told her story to tens of thousands of people across more than 20 countries. She wanted to make a difference with her words and worked hard to change the lives of others while also changing her own. In 1998, she published a book called “I have Life” that was translated into 7 languages and became a bestseller. In 2002, she published a second book called “For the Tough Times.” A documentary called “Alison” was also made and during the promotional interview for it she said, “It’s a human story. I know it’s about violence, I know it’s about rape. . . but it hits a nerve with everyone.” It was released in 2016 and became the first movie in the history of South African cinema to be selected in the ‘Dances With Films’ of the Los Angeles Indie Fest. Uga Carlini,who had been inspired by Alison’s speech at a Rugby field in 1999, wrote the screenplay and directed it went on to win Best Director and Best Screenplay at the 2019 ‘International Innovation Film Festival (IIFF)’ for her work in Alison.
Aside from her speaking, writing, and movie work, Alison was able to move forward in her personal life too. A year after the attack, she met Tienie Botha who had his own trauma which gave them something to bond over. They fell in love and got married in February 1997. No one was sure if she would be able to have kids after everything that she had been through, but not one to give into the odds, she and Tienie had two kids. Danial in 2003 and Matthew in 2006. (And, the person to deliver her 2nd son, was none other than, her Knight in Shining Armor, Tiaan Eilerd. Who after rescuing Alison, decided to become a medical doctor, instead of a veterinarian.) Alison, in her self-titled documentary describes that her relationship with her husband ended, but that she enjoys being a mom for her boys and watching them grow up.
(On October 7th, 1995, Frans was sentenced to 3 life terms w/ no parole. Theuns was sentenced to 1 life term and 25 years with no parole. The judge in the case, Chris Jansen, said that if the death penalty had not been abolished in Africa, he would have seriously considered using it, due to the brutality of the crimes committed. Clearly, this is different than in American courts. Judge Jensen writing letter to be kept in file for parole board. Describe changes in law regarding incarceration and parole guidelines. In 2015, they became eligible for parole.)
**Woman from America emailed Alison, asking her for help w/ her daughter. Daughter carrying on an online relationship w/ Frans from behind bars. He had a FB acct. Alison reported it to authorities, but asked them to keep her name out of it. Not only did they not do that, but they included her email in their correspondence to Frans.
** Frans requested to be interviewed for the documentary. What do you think he wanted in return? Frans wanted: 1. A letter of forgiveness signed by Alison and 2. Profit shares from Alison’s book sales and motivational speaking events, backdated to when she started doing & being paid for them. He sees it as the only reason for her success, is because of what he did to her.
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