16 December 2007, 13:36
Sue Littlejohn may be 70, but clearly age has not diminished her formidable fighting spirit.
She survived two previous attacks, but the one last week was the most horrendous.
For an hour-and-a-half two men played a game of cat and mouse with her, pouncing on her, strangling her, releasing her, and then striking again. They could no doubt have killed her, but instead chose to drag out the ordeal.
She escaped eventually by making a hole in her bedroom ceiling and wriggling along the rafters, descending down into the kitchen after the robbers had left.
Littlejohn, who lives on a farm in the Lidgetton valley in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, said shortly before 6pm she heard several of her horses whinny. She went outside to investigate and on her return found two men waiting inside the house.
What followed was a fight for her life.
"They tied my hands and neck with a rope," she said. "Then they kneeled and sat on me and strangled me. Every so often they slid me along the floor and banged my head into the wall."
However, because she makes her own ropes - to use on her horses - she knew they were difficult to bind someone with. "It's thick, plaited material, which is difficult to knot. I kept wriggling my fingers and hands and the knots would come undone."
Asked why her attackers had not put a stop to this, she said when they were not busy strangling her, she tried talking to them, telling them she knew they were actually kind men and should spare her. She believes this might have played a part, because when she asked for water, they gave it to her.
"But then they would jump on me again and start throttling me," she said, her voice still soft and scratchy from the punishment her throat took.
During the struggle she passed out three times.
She's convinced the men were not locals, as their knowledge of Zulu was limited - they were only able to ask her over and over for money in the language.
Littlejohn moved to the Midlands after twice being attacked when she lived near Hartebeespoort Dam.
But as a result of the latest incident she is now obliged to move again.
"I am afraid to stay on here alone," said Littlejohn.
Police are still trying to track down the robbers, but believe they are in the Bergville area.
This article was originally published on page 7 of The Cape Argus on December 16, 2007