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On 6th August 1995 photographer Alix Carmichele was violently attacked while alone at a friend’s house at Noetzie, a pristine beachfront haven near Knysna on South Africa’s Southern Cape coast. Her attacker was Francois Coetzee, a man known to her and a violent criminal charged with attempted rape and attempted murder who had recently been let out on bail.

Coetzee fled the scene after Alix managed to escape the house. He was later arrested and given 21 tears in jail. Meanwhile Alix suffered a fractured skull, a shattered arm and deep knife wounds to the chest. The fact that she survived is a miracle.

Alix’s attack made the news but it was her actions after the attack that made her a household name and a hero to so many.

Alix took an astonishing leap of faith, taking on the state in a 12 year long series of court cases set to prove that South Africa’s Ministries of Justice and Safety and Security had a duty of care to protect her and others from people like Coetzee. Known violent criminals who should never have been let out on bail in the first place.

It took more than a decade and incalculable emotional, physical and spiritual fortitude but Alix won a landmark court ruling and then damages, and her case has set precedent in a country beset with violent crime and the insecurity of a justice system that continually fails its people. Thanks to Alix the police can now be held criminally responsible for not acting to protect the safety of its citizens.

So who is the woman who did this on behalf of all of us? What were her thoughts and feelings then and what are they now? What was it that made her stick to her guns for so many years, dealing with post-traumatic stress and on-going physical and emotional challenges alongside the violations of a protracted legal system that relentlessly tried to break her down?

Journey with this remarkable woman as she takes us on an intimate exploration of what it took to do what she did.

The Leap team is most grateful to Alix for suggesting and leading a return visit to the house where she was attacked, the first time she has visited it 9 years. Don’t miss this very powerful episode.

Email Alix at

Listen to Alix talking about this episode on radio

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