Claudia van Coller survived a brutal attack when she was struck 17 times with an axe, allegedly by her ex-husband. Photo: Supplied


Kimberley - A 42-year-old Kimberley woman survived a brutal attack when she was struck 17 times with an axe, allegedly by her ex-husband. She received 86 stitches to her head following the incident.

The weapon was later found in the backyard of their home in Colville, still covered with her blood, hair and earrings.

After the attack, Claudia van Coller apparently crawled from the shanty through the kitchen in an attempt to call for help.

The suspect will appear for a bail hearing in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and faces a charge of attempted murder.

He was released on parole five years ago, after serving 15 years of a 25-year sentence, at Leeuwkop Prison in Johannesburg. He was convicted on a charge of murder.

Family members said this horrific incident follows a long history of domestic abuse, where repeated assaults and the abusive relationship were never reported.

Van Coller’s niece, Valencia de Vos, said she immediately ran for help when the suspect started chopping up the bed and the furniture with an axe on Monday morning.

“He was acting irrationally and I feared the worst. I went to call my grandmother to talk some sense into him because I was afraid that he would attack me and my aunt (Van Coller).

“He used the time that he was alone with her to carry out the attack. Even the neighbours were too scared to help her.

“He continued to strike her with the axe after she collapsed to the ground and she appeared to be lifeless.”

Family members added that he was extremely possessive of Van Coller and accused her of being a whore whenever she left the house.

“He was obsessed with her and prevented her from seeing her family and friends. She could not go to work, or to the clinic without being accused of seeing other men. He judged her for bearing two sons, who are not his, while he was in prison.”

The family members claimed that he had previously also stuck a fork in Van Coller’s head, attacked her as well as them with knives, swords and axes and also hit her with the butt of a gun.

“She always felt sorry for him and never reported it to the police. The couple were divorced while he was in prison, but he begged her to take him back after he was released.”

They added that the suspect had threatened to kill Van Coller and their 25-year-old son, a few days before the horrific assault.

“He is a danger to society and should not be given bail.”

Maude van Heerden did not expect her daughter to survive the brutal attack.

“She lost a tremendous amount of blood and her cheekbone was fractured.”

She added that her daughter applied for several interdicts against the suspect but continued to forgive him and agreed to take him back.

“I encouraged him and pleaded with him to change his ways. Claudia left home to be with him when she was just 15 years old and the abuse has continued for 21 years. She fell pregnant with their son at the age of 16.”

Van Heerden added that her former son-in-law was verbally abusive towards her daughter’s younger sons.

“The boys said that they considered him to be their father and Claudia loves him, but now they do not want to see him anymore,” she added.

A heartbroken Van Heerden found the situation very painful.

“I never believed that he would hurt my daughter in such a manner. It is a miracle that her life has been spared.”

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