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Victim of ’06 attack killed in S. Africa crash

Associated Press / August 28, 2010

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JOHANNESBURG — A South African girl who survived a criminal attack that shocked the nation was among those killed when a train hit a school van this week, a family spokesman said yesterday.

Liesel Augis was only 6 years old when she was raped, beaten unconscious with a brick, and thrown into a fire by a family friend in 2006. She survived and became known as “Little Rock’’ because of her strength and resilience.

On Wednesday, Liesel’s bus driver went around a closed railroad crossing gate and the van was hit by a train. Nine children died at the scene in Cape Town, and a 10th died yesterday.

Family spokesman Malvern de Bruyn said the accident has left a deep scar on the family and the nation. “We could see she was someone who wanted to defy anything that would cut her life,’’ de Bruyn said.

Liesel’s 2006 attacker, Abraham James, was sentenced to 28 years in jail without parole.

The family’s plight did not end with her attack. Days after James’s arrest, unknown people tried to set fire to Liesel’s home.

After the attack Liesel started school at the Good Hope Primary School in Kuilsrivier, a suburb of Cape Town. She had to conceal her name and the incident from her schoolmates, de Bruyn said.

Liesel would only refer to herself as “Little Rock,’’ the name de Bruyn gave her, he said. The pseudonym allowed her to build friendships without being taunted at school, he said.

De Bruyn derived the name from the 1956 march in which some 20,000 women protested against the introduction of pass books the apartheid government required them to carry at all times that restricted them to certain areas. The women then chanted, “you struck a rock, you struck a woman.’’

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