WALVIS BAY – “People know me only as the woman that killed her own child but I am so much more than that and am rising above all that,” narrated South African anti-drug activist, Ellen Pakkies.
Pakkies, 58, made headlines in 2007 for strangling her drug addict son Abie Pakkies in Cape Town. She was in Walvis Bay on Monday evening to give one of her motivational talks against drugs and alcohol abuse.
Pakkies, whose real-life horror drama was turned into an internationally acclaimed movie, The Ellen Pakkies Story, with raving reviews, is currently touring Namibian schools and towns to spread her message of hope and encouragement for those caught up in drugs and alcohol abuse.
“I put a rope around my son’s neck. As he took his last breath I felt as light as a feather. I felt 48 years of suffering and pain leaving my body,” Pakkies recalled during her motivational talk.
Telling her life struggles to the audience, Pakkies said she only knew pain and suffering from the age of four. She says her parents were poor and also caught up in alcohol and drug abuse. Thus, she was already exposed to all sorts of evils at a young age.
“My life was a horror movie. I was raped, gang-raped, sodomised and kidnapped so many times at a tender age that it was part of my everyday life. Nobody stood up or fought for me as the people that were living with me in the same house were also part of my abusive cycle. I did not know it was wrong. Nobody told me so.”
Pakkies says she ended up running away from home at the age of 13 and found herself living on the streets, eating from dustbins while prostituting herself off for money.
Eventually, she says, she married her first husband at the age of 18, but got divorced at 21. She married her second husband at 24, got pregnant again and divorced at 26. She ended up remarrying her second husband in 2009 despite the fact that he had threatened to kill her.
“I forged through, raised my children, and ironically Abie was introduced to tik, a very dangerous and highly addictive drug, by one of his brothers and the hell continued for me,” she said. According to her, some kids sold their parents’ homes for a mere N$20 just to use drugs while other parents fled their homes and lived in the streets out of fear for their own children.
“You have to sleep with one eye open because you don’t know what they will do to you. They rape, they steal and kill just to get their next fix.”
Describing the day she killed her own son, Pakkies said she eventually went to the shack behind her house where Abie was taking a nap after coming home early the morning high on drugs.
She wanted to talk to him about his drug habit and picked up a piece of rope in the yard with the idea of restraining Abie if he got violent.
“Something just happened and I put the rope around his neck and pulled it tighter – and I felt instant relief from all the pain my drug addicted son put me through,” she told the audience.
Prior to that, Pakkies said, she had sought help from the police, social workers and rehabilitation centres to help her son, however nobody assisted her. Shortly after killing her son, Pakkies went to her job where she told her boss of her actions. He took her to the police station to hand herself over. She remained locked up for a while but was eventually given bail of N$1 000 and could attend her son’s funeral.
Her nightmare finally ended when she was sentenced to 280 hours of community service in 2010. The magistrate who presided over her case during her sentencing said that the system had failed her.
Since then, Pakkies says, that she has been doing her part to educate families about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
“My story is not beautiful but a harsh reality. I never thought I would kill someone, let alone my own son,” she said.
Eveline de Klerk
2019-07-05 09:30:51 14 days ago