A South African woman, dubbed "Lion Mama" for running almost three kilometres to rescue her daughter from being gang raped, has had all criminal charges dropped against her.

National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Shaun Abrahams, withdrew all charges on Monday (9 October) against the Eastern Cape woman, 56, who was accused of fatally stabbing a man and wounding two others after she found them allegedly raping her 27-year-old daughter.

"The state has withdrawn the charges. This means that she is free, and the state will not be pursuing criminal charges against her. The decision was taken by the NDPP – he looked at the docket, and based on the evidence, a decision was taken not to proceed with the case," Luxolo Tyali, spokesperson of the National Prosecution (NPA) in the Eastern Cape, told The Citizen.

The mother – who cannot be named to protect her daughter's identity – was initially charged with murder and two counts of attempted murder. However, she was later released on R500 (500 South African rand, £27, $36) bail after a public outcry.

According to reports, the incident happened in September in the South African village of Zwartwater when the mother was informed that her daughter was being gang raped by three men.

The woman immediately called the local police station, but when she did not receive a response, decided to take matters into her own hands. She picked up a kitchen knife and ran a distance of approximately three kilometres through the countryside to rescue her daughter.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the woman said she could hear her daughter's cries from a distance, and when she entered an unoccupied property where her daughter was going through the ordeal, she found her almost naked. The woman then used the knife to attack the trio, who were taking turns to rape her daughter.

The mother added that when the men tried to overpower her, she fatally stabbed one of the assailants, and seriously wounded the other two. The two assailants have been taken into custody and are expected to appear in court later this week.

The woman said she is humbled by the support that she has received from across the country, adding, "It means there are a lot of people out there with good hearts who are on my side.

"I would have thrown myself to a lion to protect my daughter, and I am sure many mothers would have done the same. I truly appreciate all the support I have been getting. It has made me strong."

A fundraiser page was also started by a Cape Town resident, Natalie Kendrick, to help the "#lionmama" or "mother lioness" with legal and counselling fees. Until Monday, the page raised more than R132,000 (£7,283, $9,595).