On the Cape Flats the scourge of tik (crystal meth) addiction holds many families and communities hostage to despair and fear. Ellen Pakkies’s story became widely known after she detailed in a book — now being reissued to coincide with the release of a film — how, in desperation, she strangled her tik-addicted son in 2007. She handed herself in to the police and, although she was convicted for Abie’s murder, the prosecution acknowledged that substantial and compelling circumstances existed to justify a sympathetic sentence. The Wynberg regional court sentenced her to a three-year prison term, suspended for three years, and 280 hours of community service.

Pakkies worked with Amy Jephta, who wrote the film script based on her book. Once again, she picked through the painful story of a son unable to deal with the tragedy of his life and who turned away from his father and mother into the fatal embrace of drug dealers. In the Pakkies family, Ellen’s past influenced decisions that ...

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