On December 18, 1994, Alison Botha was abducted near her home in South Africa. By the end of the night, she had been raped, stabbed, and disemboweled — but she was still alive.
After an ordinary night out with her friends, Alison Botha drove back to her apartment in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. But as soon as the 27-year-old parked her car, a man with a knife forced his way inside.
The attacker ordered Botha to move to a different seat, trapping her inside her own vehicle. He then drove her car to pick up an accomplice. And it was immediately clear that the two men had sinister plans for her.
Botha’s captors — later identified as Frans du Toit and Theuns Kruger — took her to a deserted area on the outskirts of town. There, they brutally raped her, disemboweled her, and slashed her throat so deeply that she was nearly decapitated. Finally, they left her for dead in a clearing.
But Botha was still breathing. “I realized my life was too valuable to let go of,” she later said. “And that gave me the courage to survive.”
This is the story of Alison Botha — and her incredible will to live.
The Abduction Of Alison Botha
Alison Botha was born on September 22, 1967, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old, and Botha spent most of her childhood living with her mother and brother.
In her early years, Botha led a fairly normal life. She served as head girl at The Collegiate High School for Girls in Port Elizabeth. When she finished her education, she spent a few years traveling. And after she returned home, Botha found a job as an insurance broker, which she enjoyed.
The night of her attack seemed like an ordinary night — at least at first. After spending some time at the beach with her friends, Botha brought them back to her apartment for pizza and games. When most of the group left, Botha drove her last friend home. Then, Botha headed back to her apartment.
But she wouldn’t make it inside.
After Botha parked her car, she reached toward the passenger seat to grab her bag of clean laundry to take inside. But she suddenly felt a gust of warm air. A man with a knife had opened the driver’s door.
“Move over, or I’ll kill you,” he said.
Terrified, Botha did as she was told. The man took control of the car and soon sped away. “I don’t want to hurt you,” said the man, who identified himself as Clinton. “I just want to use your car for an hour.”
Clinton — whose real name was Frans du Toit — then traveled to another part of Port Elizabeth to pick up his friend Theuns Kruger.
The men then took Alison Botha to a secluded area just outside the city. Frozen, Botha knew something horrible was about to happen to her.
How Alison Botha Survived The ‘Ripper Rapists’
Frans du Toit and Theuns Kruger told Alison Botha that they were going to have sex with her. They asked her if she would fight them. Clearly trapped and terrified for her life, Botha said no.
The two men, who had a history of violence against women, both raped her. And they were soon determined to kill her as well. At first, they tried to suffocate her. But even though she lost consciousness, Botha clung to life.
Frustrated, du Toit and Kruger took their brutality to the next level. They stabbed Botha at least 30 times in the abdomen. Botha later recalled that du Toit specifically wanted to mutilate her reproductive organs. But somehow, the attackers missed those specific parts of her body.
When Botha’s leg twitched, du Toit and Kruger decided the job wasn’t quite done yet. They then slit her throat — 16 times.
“All I could see was an arm moving above my face,” Alison Botha later recalled. “Left and right and left and right. His movements were making a sound. A wet sound, it was the sound of my flesh being slashed open. He was cutting my throat with the knife. Again and again and again.”
Botha’s mind struggled to make sense of what was happening to her. “It felt unreal but it wasn’t,” she said. “I felt no pain, but it was not a dream. This was happening. The man was slashing my throat.”
As the men finally stepped back, Botha heard them admiring their work and speaking in Afrikaans. “Do you think she’s dead?” one of the attackers asked. “No one can survive that,” the other replied.
Apparently satisfied that they had killed her, du Toit and Kruger drove away. But little did they know that Botha was still breathing.
Lying alone atop sand and broken glass, Botha knew “I had to at least leave a clue about who did this to me.” She decided to write the names of her attackers in the dirt. Then, beneath that, she wrote, “I love Mom.”
But soon, Botha realized she might have a chance to survive. In the distance, she could see headlights streaking through the bushes. If she could just manage to get onto the road, someone might be able to help her.
Alison Botha’s Rescue And Recovery
When Alison Botha moved toward the headlights, she realized the full extent of her injuries. As she pulled herself up, her head started to fall backward — since she had nearly been decapitated.
Meanwhile, she could also feel something slimy protruding from her abdomen — her intestines. She had to use one hand to keep her organs from spilling out and the other hand to literally hold on to her own head.
Botha recalled, “As I struggled forward my sight faded in and out and I fell many times but managed to get up again until I finally reached the road.”
There, she collapsed along the white line. Even in her disoriented state, she knew that this was the best position to attract the attention of a motorist.
Fortunately, Botha didn’t have to wait for long. A young veterinary student named Tiaan Eilerd, who was visiting Port Elizabeth on vacation from Johannesburg, saw Botha lying in the middle of the road and stopped.
“God put me on that road that night for a reason,” Eilerd later said.
He used his veterinary training to tuck Botha’s exposed thyroid back inside her body. Then, Eilerd called emergency services for help.
Alison Botha was rushed to the hospital, where doctors were stunned by her horrific wounds. One doctor, Alexander Angelov, later said that he’d never seen such severe injuries in his 16 years of practicing medicine.
Botha was on the brink of death. But she managed to pull through — and she also remembered everything about her attackers. She was soon able to identify them from police pictures while she was still in the hospital. This led to the speedy arrest of the “Ripper Rapists,” as they were called in the press.
The subsequent “Noordhoek Ripper Trial” captured the attention of South Africans everywhere. Both du Toit and Kruger pled guilty to eight charges, which included kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder. They were both found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in August 1995.
But even though the worst was behind her, Alison Botha still suffered from both physical and emotional scars from the ordeal. In order to recover, she decided that she needed to face what had happened to her.
From Survivor To Motivational Speaker
Alison Botha soon began traveling around the world, telling her story in at least 35 countries. One of the first women from South Africa to speak publicly about rape — in both her home country and abroad — she helped inspire other survivors to come forward and tell their stories as well.
“The attack has put me on this path where I get to travel the world and help inspire other people,” said Botha.
In 1995, Botha won the prestigious Rotarian Paul Harris Award for “Courage Beyond the Norm” and Femina magazine’s “Woman of Courage” award. She was also honored as Port Elizabeth’s “Citizen of the Year.”
Since then, Botha has written two books. In 2016, her survival story was brought to life in the movie Alison. And today, she’s still considered one of the most inspiring motivational speakers in the world.
But for Alison Botha, perhaps the greatest gift of all has been the birth of her two sons. During her attack, du Toit had specifically tried to destroy her reproductive organs. “That was his intention,” Botha said, after the birth of her first child in 2003. “Which is what makes this news so positive.”
Today, her story stands as both an example of human depravity and the strength of the human spirit.
“Life can sometimes make us feel like the victim,” Botha once said. “Problems and hardships and traumas are dished out to all of us and sometimes they can be divided very unfairly.”
“Remind yourself that you do not have to take responsibility for what others do… Life is not a collection of what happens to you, but of how you’ve responded to what has happened to you.”