Nel-Peters shared her story in an Instagram video uploaded to the football player’s Tim Tebow Foundation, which describes itself as existing “to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need”.
In the video, the 26-year-old beauty queen began by explaining that one of the reasons she is “so passionate about giving women all over the world a voice, and an opportunity to reach out for help” is because she has also lived in fear.
Nel-Peters then recalled a moment she experienced fear, when she was on her way to an event while driving in her sponsored car shortly after being crowned Miss South Africa, only to find herself and her car surrounded by five armed men at a red light.
“The day I sat at a red traffic light, all dressed up, on my way to an event, on top of the world, I was just crowned Miss South Africa a couple months ago. In my brand new car that was sponsored, it was one of my winning prizes, on my way to some fancy event,” Nel-Peters remembered. “And I looked to my left and I looked to my right and I saw I’m surrounded by five armed men.”
According to the pageant winner, she did not know how the situation could end up, but knew she had to get away, so she put up her hands and “surrendered” all of her materialistic things, giving the attackers “everything they needed”.
However, according to Nel-Peters, the moment she tried to run away, one of the men grabbed her and pulled her back into the car, before yelling at her that she was coming with them.
“And at that moment, I said: ‘No. I’m not. I’m not going with you. I don’t care if you shoot me, if you kill me, but I’m not going with you,’” Nel-Peters recalled, before explaining how she had punched the man as hard as she could in the throat, which gave her a brief moment to get away.
The ordeal wasn’t over yet, however, as she then recalled how she ran onto a busy avenue, at which point it was only five in the afternoon, only to find that many people refused to stop their cars and help her.
“As I ran up that avenue, I knocked on about 30, 40 car windows,” she continued. “And do you know how many cars stopped for me? Not one. Not one person stopped to help.
“And I don’t know what was more terrifying, being attacked by these five armed men, or not getting any help.”
According to Nel-Peters, she kept running and knocking on car windows, until finally a 19-year-old pulled over and told her to get in.
But before she allowed Nel-Peters to enter the car, the teenager asked the beauty queen: “You don’t have a gun right?” to which Nel-Peters responded that she was just hijacked.
“And she let me into her car. And she took me to safety,” Nel-Peters said, adding that if it weren’t for the 19-year-old, she doesn’t know what would have happened to her. “I don’t know if those men would have followed me, grabbed me, who knows. But I try not to think about that.”
Nel-Peters concluded her story expressing her gratitude for the woman who helped her, before encouraging others to be the people who help those in need.
“Be that person that leans over, and opens up your car door, and lets that person in and leads them to safety,” she said.
Tebow and Nel-Peters married in Cape Town, South Africa, in January 2020, with the pair since working together to end human trafficking through the football player’s foundation, a goal that Tebow, who called trafficking “one of the greatest evils that exists in the world today,” deepened his commitment to last year through a variety of new initiatives.
In response to Nel-Peters story, numerous people praised her for speaking out and bravely sharing her own experience.
“Wow, how scary and sad at the same time that most people did nothing. Thank you for sharing and fighting against human trafficking,” one person commented, while another said: “Thank you for sharing your story and for putting a human face to what people are facing. It does open our eyes and it does help.”