Tourist tells of rape ordeal
Dutch woman on antiretrovirals after horrifying ordeal in four-star hotelApr 25, 2010 12:00 AM | By BUYEKEZWA MAKWABE
A Dutch tourist has vowed never to set foot in South Africa again - unless it is to give evidence against the man who gagged, robbed and raped her twice in the Cape Winelands.
The hotel said she was negligent with her own safety by not properly locking her room door
Yvonne Petronella Den Hollander, 62, is suing the four-star Lord Charles Hotel for failing to keep her safe and is claiming R1.7-million in damages for the terrifying ordeal she endured.
Den Hollander, a divorced mother of two, was brutalised within hours of checking into the luxury hotel. She was put on antiretrovirals after the attack, and underwent psychological counselling for trauma.
Two years after she was raped and robbed of R3600 at the hotel on March 9 2008:
- Police have yet to arrest a suspect in the case;
- The hotel says it is not liable to pay damages because guests signed a disclaimer protecting it against claims for loss, damage or injury; and
- Den Hollander is being asked to put up R200000 as security for court costs before her lawsuit can proceed against the hotel, because she is a foreigner.
The high cost could derail her case.
In court papers, she accused the hotel of negligence and failure to put in place measures that could have prevented her ordeal.
Speaking to the Sunday Times this week through her lawyer, Luuk Rijnen, she said she would never again set foot in Africa, except to face her attacker in court.
The trip to South Africa was a dream come true after she had saved up to pay for an affordable 17-day holiday package which included a trek in the Drakensberg mountains, a visit to Swaziland, a trip to the Kruger National Park and KwaZulu-Natal.
It was shortly after arriving at the Lord Charles Hotel, ahead of a tour of the Cape Winelands, that the trip turned into a nightmare.
In the statement to the police after the incident, she said she was convinced she would be killed by the rapist.
"He made me lie on the bed with my face down. He took the telephone wire. With this he tied my ankles. I was lying on my belly with my hands and feet tightly tied to my back.
"I remember that he made this quite tight. After this he put blankets and pillows over me, so I was afraid now he would shoot me because of all this noise-insulating material."
Her assailant had been hiding behind the bathroom door when Den Hollander returned to her room after a few drinks with her tour group.
The hotel, however, is defending the claim and in turn said Den Hollander was negligent with her own safety by not properly locking her room door despite written warnings.
The hotel said it had taken "reasonable steps to guard against harm to guests by among other things, engaging the services of an independent contractor".
Group chief executive officer for Command Security Services, Shaffie Mowzer, said on Friday that what had happened was both unfortunate and tragic but the company could not comment.
"The case was investigated by the police and there was never any finger pointed at the company or at the work we do."
The hotel further stated in court papers that Den Hollander had, upon arrival at the hotel, signed a disclaimer absolving it of any liability. It read: "The Lord Charles accepts no responsibility for any loss, damage or injury that may occur on our premises."
The hotel has applied to the court to compel her to pay R200000 in security for costs.
Rijnen said Den Hollander broke down when he told her about the R200000 security required.
But Den Hollander has vowed to fight on.
"She says it was only after realising that, if she stopped now without fighting back, she would feel raped twice.
"She has now pulled herself together and says she refuses to be bullied," Rijnen said.
Den Hollander told the Sunday Times via e-mail: "Did they change anything? Or do they just try to push me away so no one finds out how unsafe it is?"
Western Cape police spokesman, Warrant Officer November Filander, was unable to comment on the police investigation on Friday.