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Haunting drama provokes debate at Joburg Theatre

Anyone who follows South African film, theatre and TV productions knows Jerry Mofokeng.

He is stunning audiences into silence with his portrayal of a judge in “Acceptance”, a thought-provoking hour-long drama that lays bare the horrors of filicide – the deliberate act of a parent killing his or her own child – at the Joburg Theatre.

Written by Eva Mazza, the drama is based on the true story of a South African-born mother who smothered her three disabled children in England in 2014. It is a haunting tale of a woman at her wits’ end as she battles to cope with the severe spinal muscular atrophy the children suffer from and decides to end their lives because she thinks that is the best solution.

But the three children budge into the house of the judge – who had presided over their mother’s case and sentenced her to manslaughter – and demand to be heard. Nic (played by Francios Viljoen), Jemma (Lisa Derryn Overy) and Sam (Lea Vivier) want to be heard, not only for their sake but also for those of other disabled children whose voices are never heard.

An angry Nic wants to know why their mother’s behaviour is excusable. The siblings force the judge to confront issues he has never been required to deal with before. They want him to forget about the evidence presented to him in court and to listen to their emotional and heartfelt story of how they were denied the right to life.

This is the story of the victims whose voices were lost in the media frenzy that followed their murder and their mother’s trial. When the judge asks the three why they cannot let go, an angry Nic responds: “We’re stuck in the waiting room of the dead … Murder is the ultimate betrayal. We need closure.”

The siblings want an explanation from their mother why she killed them and why no one, especially their father, missed her signs of depression and mental illness, which were blamed for her actions. It is a heart-wrenching drama that hopefully will spark a debate about the rights of disabled children.

“Acceptance”, which opened on October 5, runs until Sunday October 16. Tickets cost R100 and are available on, 0861 670 670 or through Webtickets and at selected Pick n Pay supermarkets,