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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

Well-known alumni honoured
2013-10-24

 

From the left are: actor Hannes van Wyk, Judge Faan Hancke and his wife Benita at the Kovsie Alumni Awards.
Photo: Elmada Kemp
24 October 2013

The actor and film maker, Hannes van Wyk, known for his role as Krynauw du Boisson in the M-Net soapie Egoli, was named Kovsie Alumnus of the Year during the Kovsie Alumni Awards. He and six other former Kovsie students and staff were honoured at this gala event for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the UFS during 2012.

Van Wyk, who completed his BAEd in 1990 at the University of the Free State, was honoured for his contribution to, and development of the South African Film and Television industry. This includes his work as producer, writer, researcher and director of companies such as PACOFS, M-Net and the SABC.

The actor wasn’t the only person in the public eye to be celebrated at the event.

The well-known columnist, Hanlie Retief, who interviews the top newsmakers of the country every week for Rapport, was recognised with a Cum Laude Award. She was honoured in this category together with Paul Colditz, Chief Executive Officer of FEDSAS, the national representative organisation of governing bodies, and Judge Violet Phatshoane, founder of Phatshoane & Henney Attorneys and judge in the High Court of South Africa.

Hanlie told the audience that her degree from Kovsies opened doors for her. She spoke about the interview she had in those days with the athlete Zola Budd, her first story to be published in the university publication, Bult.

Prof Johan Willemse, who is internationally known as an agricultural economist, and Dr Philemon Akach, known for his contribution to the development of Sign Language on the continent, were bestowed with the Alumni Award for outstanding service to the UFS.

The Kovsie Ambassador Award was presented to Judge Faan Hancke, Extraordinary Professor in the Faculty of Law at the UFS. As a former Kovsie, he served more than 12 years as Council member during his career and is still involved with the Alumni Trust.

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