Johannesburg - They were out to kill us.” These were the words of two distraught and traumatised women who survived a harrowing ordeal in the Groenkloof Nature Reserve near Pretoria on Saturday.
Taschia Slabbert, 25, and her mother Melissa Slabbert, 48, were attacked and assaulted while on a hike at about 8am.
“We went there to take wildlife photos on the hiking trail.I had my camera with me because I was taking photos for a competition I wanted to enter,” Taschia said.
About 2km into the hike, her mother pulled her to the side to tell her that they were being followed. “I looked back and saw two men running towards us. Initially I moved to the side, thinking they were also hiking and would want to pass,” she said.
However, the men instead stopped, pulled out knives and began stabbing them.
Taschia said there was a third man who kept an eye on the duo who had attacked them. She said they initially fought back when the men tried to forcefully take their personal items.
“They had their hands in our panties and bras and tried to pull down our pants. I am sure that they wanted to rape us. On realising this, I told my mom to give them everything they wanted so they could leave us alone,” she said.
She said it was then that she noticed her mother was bleeding profusely from stab wounds she sustained during the struggle with her attacker. “The man took the knife and basically stabbed her through the arm.”
Taschia was stabbed in the neck, but managed to kick the man between his legs before he could stab her again. “The whole thing lasted about three to five minutes, but it really felt like hours.”
Her mother was stabbed in the head, neck and the right arm while Taschia had wounds to the neck and bruises over her body.
“We went to Little Company of Mary Hospital and the doctors told us that the spots where we were stabbed were hotspots and indicated the attackers were out to kill us,” she said.
Taschia was lucky that the knife missed a vital artery. Her mother was stabbed in an artery in her right arm, causing severe bleeding.
Their assailants fled with a R33â€…000 camera, a cellphone valued at about R8â€…000 and car keys. “They even took our shoes before they ran away. We had to run on the rocks barefoot all the way back to safety.”
The mother and daughter received counselling and post-exposure prophylaxis antiretroviral treatment to try to prevent possible HIV infection from the knife.
“The police officers as well as the staff at the hospital told us that assaults and robberies at the Groenkloof Nature Reserve were a daily occurrence. We feel that people deserve to know that these things are happening there, and that it is not a safe place anymore,” Taschia said.
She has since posted pictures of their injuries on Facebook with a message: “Hi all. Please avoid Groenkloof. My mother and I have been severely attacked and injured there; Stole cameras, phones, jewellery, car keys;Tried to kill us.”
Meanwhile, it was learnt late on Monday that two suspects had been arrested.
The attack was one of the many reported at the popular nature reserve in recent months.
It occurred just days before the May 10 public meeting during which participants will discuss how to reclaim the facility from criminals.
There have been several attacks on cyclists and hikers.
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