How This Nearly Decapitated Woman Survived Her Assault

Alison Botha is no different in many ways from the millions of other women who've felt a sudden flash of fear in a moment of vulnerability. Fortunately, the majority of those terrifying moments are just that — a brief, disorienting few seconds where we feel that sickening rush of panic followed by relief when something turns out not to be the threat we feared.

Unfortunately for Botha, her moment of fear became a prolonged and arduous battle for her life. Her story began in 1994 when the then-27-year-old South African woman was returning from driving one of her friends home after an ordinary night of fun. According to Chameleon, Botha had just arrived home and was in her car, leaning over to grab some laundry to take inside with her when she felt a rush of air that signaled someone had opened her driver's side door.

A man stood over her with a knife, demanding that she slide over to the passenger side and let him take the wheel. She did as he demanded and the two began driving, eventually picking up the first man's friend. Though the initial attacker, who'd identified himself as Clinton, claimed he didn't want to hurt her and only needed to borrow her car, the truth was much more terrifying.

Alison Botha's attack

Soon, Alison Botha was at the mercy of the two kidnappers, who brutally raped and then stabbed her. According to South Africa's IOL, she was stabbed so many times that her doctors could later not count the number of wounds. But the torture didn't end there.

As Botha herself describes in her memoir, "I Have Life," she recalls seeing a hand moving up and down and being aware of a wet sound. "It felt unreal," she wrote "but it wasn't. I felt no pain, but it was not a dream. This was happening. The man was slashing my throat."

In addition to the rest of the horrific assault, the men also disemboweled her. Soon, her attackers began to walk away, even making idle chit-chat. She recounted in her book hearing one say '"Do you think she's dead?" with the other replying "No one can survive that." But they were wrong.

Wanting to live but not knowing whether she could, Botha made the decision to try to help the police find her attackers. She wrote the names they had used in the dirt for the police, along with a message to her mother that she loved her. It was a short time later when Botha noticed headlights pass by and realized she might be saved if she could make it to the road.

Botha showed a fierce determination to survive

Somehow Alison Botha gathered the strength to stand but made two terrifying discoveries — first, that she could barely hold her head up (it had nearly been separated from her body) and that her intestines were now spilling out, according to Chameleon. Nevertheless, she found the fortitude to make it to the road, where she laid down, hoping to be seen. Good fortune came in the form of a passing motorist who happened to be a veterinarian and was able to help with her injuries enough to get her to the hospital where doctors worked feverishly to save her.

They did and though it took months of recovery, Botha not only survived but was able to identify her attackers based on police photos. Frans du Toit ("Clinton") and Theuns Kruger were charged with kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder. They were sentenced to life in prison in 1995.

Today, Botha is thriving and is not only a published author and much-lauded public speaker but she's also a mother. Thanks to her courage, her story did not end that night.