The Ellen Pakkies tragedy on stage
THE story of Ellen Pakkies, the Lavender Hill mother convicted of killing her tik addict son, Adam, is coming to a Cape Town stage next week.
The play has already run elsewhere, but next week Pakkie will get to see for herself how her life story has become a piece of theatre.
She will be in the audience at the Baxter Theatre on Friday next week to watch My Name is Ellen Pakkies.
After watching a documentary about Pakkies’s story, playwright and director Lizz Meiring was so moved that she sought the exclusive rights to stage the story.
Tomorrow is the last performance of the play at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival. It then moves to the Baxter Theatre, where it is to run from April 13 to May 7. It is also to feature at the Cederberg Arts Festival on May 1.
Afrikaans soap 7de Laan stars Vinette Ebrahim (Charmaine) portrays Pakkies, and Christo Davids (Errol) her son.
Pakkies told the Cape Argus last night that she had agreed to her story being staged because she believed it could help other people.
She recently spent a month in Valkenberg psychiatric hospital when “things became too much”.
But the former home nurse said she felt more rested now than she had in years.
Pakkies has formed the Ellen Pakkies Foundation, which seeks to empower mothers of addicts, teach them skills, provide information on how to get help for their drug-addicted children and even teach people how to read.
“I miss nursing, but I am really enjoying the work I’m doing in the communities now,” Pakkies said.
“I don’t think the government really understands what’s going on.
“I know what mothers are going through, and I hope watching this will help them.”
Pakkies was consulted during the writing of the play, and is satisfied that it will do her story justice.
In 2007 Pakkies was convicted of strangling Adam – whom she called Abie – with a rope. She told the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court she had been repeatedly raped and neglected as a child, went through two abusive marriages, and that her son became addicted to tik at 14.
Despite attempts to help him, her son had attacked her, stolen from her, lied to her and rampaged through her house. She told the court she lived in constant fear of him.
She eventually strangled him in their Lavender Hill home.
Pakkies received a three-year suspended sentence, and was ordered to do 260 days of community service.
Meiring said Pakkies’s life was portrayed with honesty, sensitivity and compassion.
She described the production as a moving, surprising, inspiring and often-shocking tale of love, loss and survival.
“This production contains violence and abusive language. But it also contains beautiful moments of humour, humanity and warmth.
“It tells of a mother’s unconditional love for her child, her absolute defencelessness against repeated trauma, and how she is driven to murder.”
Bookings may be made through Computicket.
The production carries an age restriction for 16-year-olds and under for language and violence.