In 2007, mother Ellen Pakkies strangled her 20-year-old son, Adam ‘Abie’ Pakkies, to death while he slept. Her story shocked and held South Africa’s typically short attention span when it comes to news, as the details unfolded. She was released on R1 000 bail, raised by the Lavender Hill community. The area is known as one of the most dangerous in Cape Town (if not South Africa) and has gained that reputation due to rife drug abuse. Ellen’s son, Abie, was a tik addict.

Pakkies was ultimately convicted of Adam’s murder, receiving a three-year suspended sentence and serving 280 hours of community service. The trial asked questions that were hard to answer, and not often completely conclusive. The story allowed us a look into the mind of a tik addict, and the effect their addiction has not only on them, but on those close to them. Abie verbally and physically abused his mother for years, and he stole from and threatened her until the day she turned herself in for his murder.

A new film tells Ellen Pakkies’ story in all its complexity, and will leave you grappling with difficult questions long after you’ve stopped watching. Ellen: the Ellen Pakkies Story, was written by Amy Jephta with the help of Ellen Pakkies, and directed by Daryne Joshua (of  2016’s Noem My Skollie). It is produced by Schalk-Willem Burger and Paulo Areal, with Suidooster actress Jill Levenberg starring as Ellen and Jarrid Geduld as Abie. It was shot in Pakkies’ home, at the authentic location of many of the events.

See the riveting trailer below:

‘Tik changed my son drastically. He was a monster. His behaviour changed so that I didn’t recognise him anymore,’ Ellen said in 2010. ‘Life was hell on earth. We started fighting like people who didn’t know each other.’

She continues: ‘Every day there was a new problem and I always tried my best to help him get off these drugs, but it just got worse. I did enquiries at the courts for help, even the magistrate, because my son was jailed and in court so often. But he just got right out, sometimes without me putting up bail. No one could help me.’

Ellen Pakkies has since focused her efforts on raising awareness of drug abuse, particularly that of tik (a local slang name for crystal meth). In 2012, she told IOL ‘There are other mothers going through this and who are still living with the threat and the help they really need is not really there.’

The film premieres on 7 September 2018 in most nationwide Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro theatres.