Briton in rape ordeal praised

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An abducted British tourist who talked her assailant out of raping her while two friends were reportedly gang-raped near by, was praised for her courage yesterday.

Joane Horscroft was touring South Africa in a hire car with two women from Britain and New Zealand and Dino Druda, a Newcastle-based medical student, when they were abducted at gunpoint by eight men.

They were dragged from the car and Mr Druda was stripped and dumped in the boot after being pistol-whipped. Two of the women were raped and beaten. But Miss Horscroft, 20, of Barnes, south-west London, was able to persuade the gang member who took her aside not to rape her.

The ordeal began late on Thursday night when black men in a pick-up truck opened fire on the tourists' rented vehicle after they asked for directions.

The travellers crashed after being chased down a track. Their car and possessions were stolen and they were forced to walk naked to a nearby village to raise the alarm.

Pat Goss, chairman of the Natal Parks Board, who arranged for his private plane to fly the party to Durban to be interviewed by police, described Miss Horscroft's actions as "absolutely miraculous".

"The man led her away as his claimed victim and when they were apart from the other men she said, `If you have a sister, is this the sort of thing you would want to happen to her?'

"The man then said he would not have sex with her unless she consented and loved him, but she said, `How on earth do you expect me to love you after five minutes?"'

Her abductor then reportedly "pretended" to have sex with her in order to fool the rest of the gang. Mr Goss said: "He is the fellow we want to catch first. He could give valuable evidence because he is much less guilty than the others."

A South African police spokeswoman said: "It was magnificent of her to keep a cool head under circumstances like that."

A reward of 100,000 rand (pounds 17,500) has been put up by the South African government. The victims were still recovering at the home of a friend and colleague of Mr Goss. He said local women had responded "magnificently" in donating clothes to the victims.