By Dan McDougall
As A Drug Epidemic Sweeps S Africa, Parents Are Pushed To Take Drastic Measures
Here in the Cape Flats, an area of grim housing estates just 20 minutes from downtown Cape Town, drug gangs rule the streets. According to Rob Young, chief of police, drugs account for 80 of violent crime in the city. In South Africa there is a murder every 25 minutes.
The drug epidemic is pushing parents to take desperate measures. In the case of Ellen Pakkies, 52, it led her to kill her own son as he lay in a drug–induced stupor. For seven years Abbie Pakkies, an addict, had robbed and terrorised his mother at her home in Lavender Hill. She was forced to fortify her house with iron bars to keep him out. Killing her son, she said, was simply taking back her own life. Her action has made her a potent symbol of South Africa’s drug crisis.
Her son started smoking dagga (the local name for a potent strain of marijuana) at 11 and by the time he was 14 had dropped out of school and devoted himself to a new drug, methamphetamine, known in the West as crystal meth and in South Africa as “tik”. It has become the scourge of Cape Town.
A decade ago the Western Cape had fewer than 12,000 tik users. Today there are estimated to be 120,000. Describing the decision to kill her own flesh and blood, she recalled Abbie, 20, screaming and begging in the yard for money to buy tik, before he passed out.
This time Pakkies ignored his screams. The last of her clothes, including her underwear, had vanished – sold by Abbie for drugs. A week earlier her son had lunged at her with a pair of scissors. She had given in, throwing the last of her wages down at his feet in exchange for her life.. She recalled his death in clinical detail. Entering Abbie’s shack outside her house she noticed a piece of white rope. She tied it into a noose and slipped it over his neck, as he lay barely conscious. Pakkies pulled the noose on her son’s throat so tight that it cut the skin. Her child was gone.
Her case took 15 months to come to court and in December 2008 Pakkies pleaded guilty to manslaughter. She was sentenced to a three–year jail term. Now,Pakkies has started speaking about her ordeal. Her suffering, she claims, seems to strike a chord with young offenders.
Source: Times of India