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14 June 2019 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Albert van Biljon
Alison Botha
Over and above being a survivor, Alison Botha is an inspiration.

It was an ordinary December 1994 evening in Port Elizabeth. Alison Botha parked her car in front of her home. A man ambushed her at knife point. Minutes later, she was forced into the passenger seat and the perpetrator drove off, picking his friend up on their way to the coastal bushes of the city.
 
What was supposed to be an ordinary evening turned into a horrific experience which changed Botha’s life forever. She was raped, strangled, had her throat slit and her stomach cut open. Physicians called her survival a medical miracle. The true miracle though, is how she has chosen to deal with the experience. 

Botha overcame her fear of public speaking and has become an international motivational speaker who also authored a first-person account of her ordeal and recovery in 1998, titled I Have Life.

Aluta continua against gender-based violence

As part of our university’s advocacy against gender-based violence, the Human Resources’ Division for Organisational Development and Employee Wellness hosted Botha for a motivational talk on 5 June 2019 at the Bloemfontein Campus. In telling her story, Botha stated that she still receives healing.

While welcoming guests and the speaker, Prof Prakash Naidoo, Vice-Rector: Operations touched on Project Caring which is supported by the Rectorate. “We care for you and part of that caring agenda is gender-based violence. We encourage you to speak out about this issue, don’t remain silent, someone will listen,” he advised.

From victim to victor

Botha believes that if her story serves to help someone else avoid the same situation or perhaps even survive a similar trauma, then she has served her purpose. “I now believe that the evil is far outweighed by all the good that has come out of my choice to share my story,” she said.

Much of the reason behind her strength lies in what she terms her own ABC principle which speaks to attitude, belief and choice. “We are not always going to be in control of everything that happens to us. But we always control how we respond,” said Botha. 

The story of Botha’s survival, recovery and victory proves that the human spirit cannot be crushed. There is indeed life after a near-death tragedy.

News Archive

National Literacy Month celebrated
2013-09-16

 

Revelling in the lighter side of life on Robben Island, were from left: Paddy Harper, Gugu Kunene, Peter-Paul Ngwenya, Betsy Eister, Director of the UFS Library and Information Services, and Fred Khumalo.
Photo: Jerry Mokoroane
16 September 2013

In recognition of National Literacy Month, the UFS Library and Information Services hosted journalists Fred Khumalo, Paddy Harper and Gugu Kunene, who launched their book,‘The lighter side of Life on Robben Island’, to Bloemfontein book lovers.

Khumalo, a Sunday Times review columnist, Harper, a journalist for City Press, and Kunene, a former SABC journalist, enthralled the audience with snippets from their book. “We have read so many other books on Robben Island,” Khumalo said, “focusing on the famous people like (Nelson) Mandela and (Ahmed) Kathrada. The idea of this book is to reflect on lesser-known individuals; explore and illuminate other aspects of their lives."

To give the audience just such an intimate glimpse into those experiences, Peter-Paul Ngwenya – a former inmate on Robben Island –shared the stage in the Scaena Theatre. When Ngwenya, now chairperson of Makana Investment Corporation, regaled attendees with anecdotes from fellow detainees and everyday prison life, he brought the entire house down in stitches of laughter.

Contrasting the light banter of everyday life with the hardships prisoners faced, Khumalo said the book celebrates "the humanity of individuals – those sides of the story that make them human beings with fully fledged lives."

 

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