Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Ripper Rapists

Beginning to Heal

Tiaan had to return to Johannesburg, but left Alison with a small cactus and a card. Inside were the words, "You're the bravest person I have ever met."

A detective came to visit her on her second day in the hospital. He introduced himself as Melvin Humpel, the investigating officer in her case. He told her not to worry; the men responsible had been arrested earlier that morning and were in custody. Alison was washed in relief.

Meanwhile, reporters began to show tremendous interest in Alison. People responded to her story, on the one hand because people in general tend to like tales about someone who survives against all odds, but also because crime was quite rife in South Africa and this woman showed remarkable courage in the face of a horrific attack. Although Alison had no compunction against speaking with them, she was just not up to it yet physically. Later, Det. Humpel advised her to wait until after the trial.

She began to think about the attack, and the thing that confounded her was that these two men had tried their best to kill her. She struggled with the enormity thereof.

There was of course always pain, "excruciating, mind-blowing pain". The daily process of cleaning her body and her wounds was sessions in torture. But as Christmas loomed, Alison walked a couple of steps for the first time. Despite the feeling that her intestines wanted to burst from her abdomen, she was thrilled.

After Christmas she was moved out of High Care to a private room, and she walked with increasing frequency. Alison began to wonder what she was going to do with this thing that had happened to her. Whatever that would be, she resolved not to allow her attackers to hold power over her. "I had always believed that nothing happened to anyone who didn't have the capacity to overcome it," she wrote in her book. "We are never given more than we can bear. It was up to me now to have faith in my own power and believe that this would not set me back or change my life."

Despite some setbacks, Alison was discharged on the last day of 1994. Although every interaction between the car and the texture of the road was translated by her body into pain, the journey was still amazing. She might never have seen any of it again.

Her mother took care of her. For some time, however, she would have to travel back to the hospital daily to have her wounds redressed.

Days grew into weeks. Although Alison told everyone she was okay and acted as if she were, her mother saw her without the mask. She had been blessed with a mother who loved her unconditionally, and at home she did not have to pretend. She experienced mood swings, irritability, and often acted contradictory to the person she used to be. She needed help, even though she didn't want to see it herself. Her mother gave her the number of a counselor, and Alison did go to speak with her. And it did help, so she went with some regularity.

Alison's neck wound
Alison's neck wound

Still, she did not really deal with the enormity of what had happened to her, not on anything more than a superficial level. "The only thing I could do was feel," she wrote, "not emotion, but pain, raw physical pain. Sometimes just being alive hurt."

One evening Alison found herself in the bathroom, staring at the wounds which described the unthinkable things that two cruel men had done to her on one dark night. The line running seemingly right around her throat immediately yanked at her eyes, but it was on her stomach that they would linger. The wounds on her abdomen were "hideous", and included the additional scars of an incision made during the surgery. The moment overwhelmed her, and tears spilled from her eyes, seemingly from an endless supply.

She called her mother.

"Look at me. Who will love me this way?"

I have a feeling this moment wrenched her mother into her core. But somehow she managed to find a calm response. "One day you will find someone who will. Someone who will be capable of seeing beyond the scars to the beautiful person you are."

Of course Alison rejected this sentiment almost out of hand.

She also worried that du Toit and Kruger might somehow get bail. That they might come after her. That they might know others who would come after her.

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