Saturday, 9 February 2008

'If you brought him to me, I would stab him'

Murray Williams

February 08 2008 at 12:22PM

Her hair was matted with blood. She was wet, she bled from a dozen fresh wounds and was huddled in a thorn bush, naked from the waist down.

She was terrified beyond words. She wanted to believe it wasn't happening to her.

But it was real, and it happened a week ago. She had survived a brutal attack and attempted rape near the top gates of Kirstenbosch gardens while she was jogging on the mountain.

She spent the next five days in hospital.

"I've been attacked. I'm not good"

On Thursday, after returning to her family home in the southern suburbs, she spoke publicly about her ordeal in an effort to warn other women to be vigilant and to not run alone.

Her assailant was still out there, and she was sure he would try to attack again.

Still in pain, this brave survivor a mother of two young children sat on a soft couch in her home yearning for a life far from this city, somewhere where she and her family would feel safe.

"I feel a bit better today," she began.

Her arm was in a sling, supporting her fractured shoulder blade. She had three broken ribs, triple-layered stitches deep into her head, massive swelling and bruising, and a blood clot the size of a golf ball behind her left eye, causing her to see double.

'If you brought him to me now, I would stab him'

She cannot chew because of the blood in her middle ear.

But her throat was no longer as swollen as it had been, after all the strangling.

She is thankful to be a survivor. "He didn't rape me, thank God."

Lean and fit, she is a keen runner. After a successful Comrades marathon last year, a top finish in the recent Red Hill marathon, she was in training for the Two Oceans marathon.

Setting off last Friday, she had hoped to "get some distance" and run around 18km. She was dressed in good running shoes, running shorts and a vest, and wore a Garmin GPS running watch.

About 800m from the gardens' top gate, she saw a man approaching along the path, well-dressed in beige chinos and a neat brown T-shirt. She described him as black, about 30, and friendly. She greeted him.

"But he had seen me coming. As I ran past, he grabbed my arm, swung me around and started punching me in the chest again, and again, and again.

"I was screaming blue murder. He grabbed my throat and tried to strangle me.

"He took out a knife and showed it to me: 'You see this knife, I'm going to stick it into you ….

"Then he grabbed a rock and began hitting my head.

"I'm quite strong, but I was putty in his hands. He was completely calm he knew who was going to win this battle.

"He squeezed my throat, and I felt myself losing consciousness. I had tears in my eyes. I was about to die, and hadn't seen my children since finishing a PTA meeting the night before.

"I kept thinking: 'I've got to do something to stop him from killing me.' I screamed at him: 'I've got a baby in my tummy!'

"I thought it might stop him from killing me. But he didn't respond."

"Then I lost consciousness."

When she woke she is not sure how many minutes had passed she was lying on the ground. A twisted black rubbish bag had been tied over her eyes. Her hands were bound behind her back.

"Then he said: 'Someone's coming!' and he yanked me by my legs down an embankment and into the thick bushes.

"I lost consciousness again." again, for who knows how long.

"When I woke he was pulling my pants off. He's a sicko he'd just beaten me to a pulp, and now he said: 'You've got a beautiful body!'

"He spoke in clear, perfect English," she remembered.

"I lost consciousness again.

"I woke. I was lying on my stomach. My head was incredibly sore, my face was pressed down in the dirt.

"I think he attempted to penetrate me. But there was no pressure. He said: 'Wait here, I'm going to my bag to get some Vaseline. He went off."

"I managed to wriggle my hands free. I stood up, but I was dizzy with the pain. I stumbled, then fell to the left."

She scrambled down a precipitously steep bank, down to a stream, splashed through it and collapsed behind a massive log.

"I could not take one more step. I lost consciousness again."

She awoke, barely 10m from where she had been attacked, but was hidden from the man if he was still there.

"I wondered: 'Did I dream this?' But I realised it was real.

"I counted out 10 minutes. I listened, and could not hear him. I heard cars, and realised I must be near Rhodes Drive. I had to make a go for it."

She stood shakily … and ran.

"A group of workers saw me, semi-naked, bleeding, trying to pull my vest down to cover myself.

"They were horrified. One ran to support me. All they wanted to do was protect me."

They called her husband.

"I've been attacked. I'm not good" was all she told him.

He was at her side within minutes.

"I couldn't see, my head was three times its size. I thought I was going to die," she said.

Her injuries aside, she felt sick on Thursday - the result of cautionary anti-retrovirals and treatment for possible sexually transmitted diseases.

"I have nightmares. I've woken up spitting grass, my face down in the dirt again."

All he stole was her watch.

Of running again, and the mountain, she said: "I knew there were dangers, but I used to love running by myself. It was my church.

"I always thought I couldn't get closer to God than on the mountain.

"It was my haven, a time for reflecting, a release from the world. It was my spiritual time alone."

She cannot contain a longing for revenge: "If you brought him to me now, I would stab him, so many times, till he pleaded.

"But I'd carry on … I just want him to hurt."

Two hikers in the Kalk Bay area of the Table Mountain National Park were robbed of R10 and a wrist watch by three knife-wielding men on Wednesday about 8.30am, West Cape News reports.


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