Alison Botha 2016

Alison Botha is a woman whose story of determination and courage continues to inspire people and communities. Twenty-two years ago, two men abducted and raped Alison in the bushes adjacent to Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s South campus. Stabbed so many times that doctors could not count her wounds, disembowelled, and her throat slit, Alison was left for dead.

But Alison miraculously survived, having crawled inch by inch from the bushes to the roadside, where she was eventually found and assisted by a passing motorist.

Alison was born in Port Elizabeth on 22 September 1967. She matriculated as Head Girl of Collegiate Girls’ High School in 1985. After school, she studied for a year at the former Port Elizabeth Technikon and then began working. At the age of 21, she travelled overseas, where she stayed for four years. On returning to South Africa, she took up a job as an Insurance Broker until her life changed on the night of 18 December 1994.

As she denied death that night she later denied her assailants the satisfaction of destroying her life by refusing to be victimised. Telling her story in her book “I Have Life” and now in a movie, “Alison”, released in August this year, she has shared her horrific experience and heroic survival. Alison has also tirelessly addressed hundreds of people, inspiring others by sharing how attitude, belief and choice helped her survive.

The manner in which she survived, her inner strength and determination, her lack of bitterness and her serenity and humility captured the attention of South Africa and the world. In 1995, Alison was awarded the prestigious Rotarian Paul Harris Award for 'Courage Beyond the Norm'. In the same year she was the first recipient of Femina magazine's 'Woman of Courage' award as well as being chosen as Port Elizabeth's Citizen of the Year.

Upon the release of the movie, Alison said: “'I have always hoped that by sharing my own journey with others, it would give them hope and courage for their own. To have my story and ultimate triumph shared on screen, would mean that so many more people would see the power of choice that we each have; and might also choose to triumph over life's hardships”.

Apart from the work that she does, she says that by far the most important ‘job’ she has is being a single mom to her two boys – the reasons for it all!

For her unstinting commitment to empowering others to transcend their circumstances, overcome life’s difficulties and stand strong in the face of adversity, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is honoured to present Alison Botha with the Council Prestige Award.