It’s been 11 years since the country was shaken by the story of Ellen Pakkies, who made news headlines for murder in 2007 after she strangled her 20-year-old tik-addicted son Abie to death. At the time some were sympathetic to her story; others judged her negatively.
Pakkies was abused throughout her life. She was first raped at the age of four and it continued throughout her life. Then she was abused by her son. Now, this heart-wrenching story is being told on the big screen. At the time, the court case kept all on the edge of their seats. Would Ellen get the peace she so desperately longed for? Or would the system (which had failed her for most of her life) continue to disappoint?
The Story of Ellen Pakkies is not just the tale of one family, but a reflection of how drugs continue to devastate the communities in which they are the primary income for many families and a coping mechanism and escape from the harsh reality in which they live.
The story of the Pakkies family is not just about drug addiction. It is a reflection of how certain communities are destitute and left with no other options but to continue the vicious cycle of poverty, abuse, violence and dependency on substances. The film is a reflection of how communities, such as Lavender Hill on the Cape Flats, and families, such as the Pakkies’, are victims of a system that is supposed to help them but not only fails them, it also punishes them for the inevitable results. Abie’s (Jarrid Geduld) childhood changes when a family secret is revealed. As he spirals out of control he drops out of school and joins the wrong crowd and his mother Ellen (Jill Levenberg) and father Odneal Pakkies (Elton Landrew) bare the brunt of his abuse.
Abie steals his parents’ few possessions and money and physically abuses and threatens his mother. It’s the words of Abie’s friend, Nikita (Kay Smith) that ring true for multiple conversations had in poor communities. As they light a tik pipe, Nikita asks Abie what the point of matriculating is when they’re still left in Lavender Hill for the rest of their lives. Believing that, Nikita and Abie make peace with their fate and hustle for their next fix. Their pain and disappointment affects those around them. The story unfolds just as Abie’s new friend, Waanie, the local drug dealer, predicts: “Dit is jou future.”
The Story of Ellen Pakkies will rock you to the core from beginning to end.