Moving forward

A social activist from South Africa is sharing her personal experience on the dangers of drug abuse with coastal ­learners and communities.

07 July 2019 | Social Issues

Ellen Pakkies; Activist; " I pulled the rope tighter around his neck."

Walvis Bay • Leandrea Louw

Ellen Pakkies who murdered her tik-addicted son Abe in 2007, after suffering abuse at his hands for years, is sharing her story of survival and forgiveness to audiences in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Karibib during a two-week tour.

The South African-born Pakkies handed herself over to the police on the day of the murder and was later sentenced to a three-year suspended sentence and community service. It was during this time that she became a community worker and social activist, fighting against drug abuse.

“Many only know me as a mother who murdered her son. They don't know anything about my background,” she said, while recounting how she lived with her mother under a truck and sharing how all she had known was abuse from the age of 4 to 29.

“People couldn't see my pain. I had to live under the same roof as my rapist for many years. I was raped countless times by those I considered friends, and even family members. I didn't understand the concept of rape, know I could shout for help or I could take action. The tears would just roll down my cheeks.”

Pakkies left home at the age of 13 as she felt that the streets might provide her with the love she always wanted. “I became a prostitute, ate out of rubbish bins and slept under bridges with cardboard my only defence against the cold.”

When she left school in grade 4 she was unable to put a proper sentence together.

“There was no one to make sure I completed my education, or to protect me from the endless abuse I suffered. I grew up lonely, taking on each day with a smile. I never questioned God as to why he let all this happen to me. All I ever prayed for was calm, tranquillity and peace.”

'Respect each other'

Pakkies advised members of the audience to care for each other, respect each other and be mindful of how they speak to each other. “We tend to focus on the negative aspects, take things for granted and live past each other. We don't want to let the past go and rather hold grudges against each other. Parents should lead by example and not cover the sins of our children. We should remember that respect goes both ways.”

She encouraged parents to talk issues out with their children and to listen.

“Too many people have unresolved issues which stem from their younger years. Deal with those issues instead of resorting to drugs and alcohol. I saw the pain on my son's face and it was the exact pain I grew up with. Tik ruined his life. An addict would do anything to get his or her next fix”

She concluded her talk by recounting what happened on the fateful day she ended her son's life.

“It was a day like any other. Before going to work, I checked in on Abe. I asked him if he wanted tea and he murmured yes. As I left the room, I saw a rope lying on the floor, picked it up and took it with me. When I returned, I placed the tea on the table next to him, helped him up on the bed, took the rope, placed it around his neck, and pulled it tighter.”

While she was tightening the rope around Abe's neck, she asked him why he didn't appreciate what she was doing for him, and why didn't he listen to her.

“He shouted that he will listen. I pulled the rope tighter around his neck. He grew still and I tied the other end of the rope around the bed post and left for work. I felt as light as a feather, almost relieved. It was as if a burden had been lifted.”

Later that day she handed herself over to the police.

, telling them that she had murdered her son.

Following her arrest and after her case was finalized in 2013, Pakkies received a three-year suspended sentence along with community service.

“I don't tell my story for people to pity me, but instead for them to learn from my story, to forgive, move forward and to find solace and hope in Jesus.”

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