The Story of Cornelia Raath 
and her Cats

Story Cat

The Accident

On the afternoon of May 1st, 1996, Cornelia Raath arrived at the Roos household. The hard disk in their home computer has reached full capacity, and Cornelia had brought a new one along. She took her neatly packed tools out, and proceeded with the task at hand with her customary enthusiasm.

Just before six, Cornelia remembered the time, and rushed off to gym without taking her back-pack along - she would be back within an hour. She simply fastened her crash helmet, hopped onto her road scrambler, and drove towards the end of her career.

She was on the verge of completing an extremely advanced program on neural networks at Aerotek, CSIR. But this brilliant, beautiful, electronic engineer's Yamaha TW200 road scrambler crashed into the car of a woman who had skipped a stop sign. Cornelia had no chance to avoid it. As she hit the road, her helmet came off and she cracked her scull against the curbstone.

The damage to her brain was permanent. Her short term memory and numerical brain functions were destroyed. Although the CSIR kept her position open for two years, she was unable to go back to work and was eventually medically boarded from her job.

In bitter irony, Cornelia Raath, an expert on neural networks, went on pension at the age of 28 due to brain damage.

News Cat

Click to see larger picture of Tom, Jerry and Charcoal
Tom, Jerry and Charcoal.

Click to see larger picture of Tom and Jerry
Tom and Jerry.

Click to see larger picture of Charcoal
who died August 2000.

The Fight 

Broken in body and mental brilliancy, but not in spirit, Cornelia slowly and painfully started putting back the pieces of her life.

The pieces that remained were few. She could no longer partake in her favorite adrenaline rushers: Parachuting, bungee jumping and 'biking. Perhaps the worst blow was that she could not remember how to use a computer (she became addicted to computers when her Dad bought an ZX Spectrum when she was in fifth grade).

Miraculously, though, she was still an intelligent young woman, even if she could not count, and could not remember people. Her very long hair were gone, but she was still just as beautiful. Most importantly, she had her three cats: Tommy, Jerry and Charkie. These three took a very prominent role in Cornelia's road to recovery.

Then the blow came: The Body Corporate of the block of apartments where she lived decided to outlaw all pets in the block. Where could the cats go? Back to the SPCA, from where she got them in the first place? Naturally, Cornelia was firm on the matter: The cats are her children, she will not throw them out, and beware the person who is going to try and make her!

But the Body Corporate's law firm gave Cornelia an ultimatum: Throw them out, or face legal action. She was forced to go to the court rooms.

A reporter from the South African newspaper, Pretoria News, got sniff in the nose, resulting in the following reports:

On 9 May '98, the Cornelia Cat Support Group was formed. Web pages being hosted by the Purple Cat resulted in e-mail's of encouragement reaching Cornelia from all over the world. 

We are very happy that on April 28, 1999, the Pretoria High Court ruled that she could keep her cats in her apartment!

What the Media had to say:

These reports are published on this page with the kind agreement of the News Papers. 

Cornelia could now face the next step, leading to a new life.

Click to see larger picture of Cornelia Raath
Cornelia Raath, 
as she looks today.

Click to see larger picture of Tinkerbell
Cornelia's new arrival.
Giving a new meaning 
to the term lap-top!

The New Life 

For the first two and a half years after her accident, Cornelia was still very much frustrated with her situation. She avoided people. She was in constant pain and developed a long list of secondary health problems. Not being able to concentrate, she could not read with comprehension, or count, or watch television. She obtained a punch bag, and used it to vent her anger and helpless frustration.

Others might thing her surviving the accident was a miracle. What did she care that she had lived when she should have died? Death would have been more merciful than this sorry excuse for life!

Then the second  miracle happened. The Lord came into her life, and Cornelia accepted Him as her personal Saviour. 

For this brand new young Christian, life changed and could never be the same again. She was faced with things strange to her old life, such as learning to rest her weight fully on God. Giving forgiveness to the woman who caused the accident. Learning to understand pain and discomfort. And then: Telling everybody she met!

This was made possible by the third miracle in Cornelia's life:  She regained enough concentration to be able to use computers, to write, and finally, to speak in public. 

All this enabled her to start handing out testimonies about the miracle of her life. 

Next, Cornelia started giving motivational talks. (Interested? Write to her at <>. She charges for her expenses only.) 

Cornelia has also build her own Web Pages, where you can read all her testimonies.

What can we now say about all of this?

We'll let the final word go to Cornelia herself:  "I have now come to realise that is is not at all important what milestones, achievements, qualifications, status symbols or business successes I'm able to achieve in life... that the only important thing in this life is having a relationship with the Lord ... and to rest my weight fully on our Heavenly Father."

Now go and visit Cornelia's Web Pages, because...

She's got to tell everyone!

A few Words from the Authors

We as family would like to express our thanks to everybody who participated in the "Cornelia Cat Support Page" in those dark days before the High Court case. Cornelia was very excited about each and every letter that you have sent! The support she received from cat lovers from all over the globe encouraged her to keep on with her fight.

When we started these pages in May '98, Cornelia had not touched a computer since her accident, but miracles does happen.  The support she got over the Net and your prayers had sowed the seeds, and today she is quite competent behind her laptop. We can only thank the Lord for that.   She's got her own e-mail address (<>) , so feel free to write her a letter.

- Marietjie Swart (Cornelia's sister)

I met Cornelia at a Microchip Seminar, quite a few years ago. I was so impressed by the clever little engineer who loved cats, bikes and computers, that I performed some basic research to get hold of her phone number. Not long after that, I met her sister, whom I married in 1997   :-)

Today I am still impressed with my bright sister-in-law. Many a strong man I know would have been broken by just half the trouble she has been going through between 1996 and 2001. Of course, she has God to help her, and I am sure that has been her most important lifeboat since the accident. Now you know why I am hosting this page!

- Jaco Swart (also know as the Purple Cat)

Last updated on January 29, 2001