Alison (2017) directed by Uga Carlini


This drama-documentary has a fairy-story feel, a story of good triumphing over evil, of before and after the fall. Rape and murder are commonplace. Currently, only four-percent of reported rapes in the United Kingdom, for example, are successfully prosecuted.  When Alison Botha was abducted at knife-point in 1994, after dropping her friend off, near her home in South Africa, she hoped for the best. But she got the worst. There would be no escaping. Her would-be rapist picked up a friend. She looked in the mirror and into the back seat and into his eyes and all hope was gone. She recognised he was evil. The man sitting in the driving seat beside her seemed more affable. Later, he said he was possessed by the devil. They had already committed a number of rapes. Alison Botha was just another body. They took her to a nature reserve and took turns raping her. They’d already decided they didn’t want to leave any witnesses and they’d kill her. Tie up those loose ends.

Disembowelled, Alison couldn’t crawl. Somehow she had to stand up, despite her throat being cut from ear to ear and being stabbed more than thirty-six times. Nobody expected her to live. When she did make it out of the nature reserve and onto a main road, the first car passed, swerved round her bleeding body, and continued on. The next car stopped (the guy later went to university and trained to become a medical doctor). He held her hand and travelled in the ambulance with her. The ambulance crew didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry. They knew she’d be dead on arrival. She needed not just one surgeon, but two surgeons specialising in different fields. The surgeon that put her stomach back washed out the grit and glass in her intestines that she’d picked up as she crawled. It was a labour of love. Alison wouldn’t survive the surgery. They knew that.

Let’s jump forward. Her rapists were caught. She had to identify them. The police officer that took them to court told the viewers he didn’t put them in handcuffs. He wanted them to run so he could shoot them. They didn’t run. They did get convicted. The death penalty had been abolished. The judge sent them down for life, with a special note stating they should never be realised.

Nobody, of course, reads special notices. They are due for parole. They have girlfriends that visit. But this is not a story about them.

Alison Botha is a living miracle. Death visited her. She has wrestled with evil. Yet, neither of these factors defines her. Alison Botha offers a vision of radical hope for the future. Sometimes life is larger than life.

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