'Iron woman', 80, survives being kidnapped, dropped off barefoot in -5°C Lesotho weather

Daleen van der Hoven, 80.
Daleen van der Hoven, 80.
Supplied by Netwerk24
  • An 80-year-old Free State woman who was attacked with an iron pipe and dropped off in sub-zero weather has survived the ordeal. 
  • She was dropped off in Lesotho barefoot, wearing only her nightgown, where she sought help after crossing a rugged piece of veld. 
  • She has since been discharged from hospital and is making a recovery. 

Daleen van der Hoven, 80, who was attacked on her farm, Wanatha, in the Zastron area in the Free State, before being kidnapped to Lesotho, has been discharged from hospital.

Van der Hoven's daughter, Lize du Plessis from Bloemfontein, says her mom is recovering at home after being discharged from the Life Rosepark Hospital more than a week after the attack. 

She was treated in the hospital's high-care unit for six days. 

The critically injured Van der Hoven was dropped off in Lesotho in temperatures of -5°C following the attack.

Barefoot, clothed in only her nightgown and without glasses, she stumbled over rocks and rugged veld to seek help at a hut.

Her attackers burnt her Audi, with which they had fled across the border, about 2.5km from where they had dropped her off, when, according to one of those who has since been arrested, the car "did not want to drive any further".

'An iron woman'

Du Plessis says her mother's doctor, a neurosurgeon from Bloemfontein, said "she is an iron woman and a really brave Voortrekker woman".

She added:

He said he had never seen anyone at her age who was so strong and courageous. She was an inspiration to everyone in the high-care unit.

Du Plessis says 80% of her mother's intra-cerebral bleeding had been cleared up and scans will be done again in three weeks.

Van der Hoven was beaten over the head in her bedroom where the attackers demanded money.

The suspects got away with a few thousand rand in cash, valuable family heirlooms such as jewellery and three rifles that belonged to her father, the late Naas van der Hoven, who was a Springbok shooter in the 1970s.

The four alleged attackers, all presumably Lesotho citizens, fled across the border with Van der Hoven in the back seat.

After they allegedly assaulted her again, she had to drive the last stretch of road herself because they apparently struggled to drive the car.

Du Plessis says two men with criminal records in South Africa were arrested by Lesotho police in connection with the incident. One has managed to escape and is on the run again. Police are searching for three men, all believed to be in Lesotho.

daleen van der hoven
Daleen van der Hoven's burnt-out Audi was found in Lesotho.

Du Plessis says her brother, Wally van der Hoven, who lives on the farm with their mother and who also runs his own farm nearby, has meanwhile done everything in his power to improve security on the farm and to assist the police in following up on clues to help catch the criminals.

Van der Hoven was not on the farm when his mother was attacked.

"The bruises on her face look significantly better," Du Plessis said.

Van der Hoven had to wait in the casualty ward of Life Rosepark Hospital for 17 hours after the attack because she first had to be tested for Covid-19 before she could be admitted to the high-care unit of the hospital.

She says she received excellent treatment in the hospital.

Colonel Thandi Mbambo, provincial police spokesperson, confirmed the attack and said Van der Hoven was severely assaulted with an iron bar.

- Translation by Riaan Grobler. Read the original article in Afrikaans here

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