Avatar photo

By Cornelia Le Roux

Digital Deputy News Editor

Joshlin Smith: Did ticking time bomb of tik push Mom Kelly over the edge?

Joshlin Smith's mother, Kelly, has been accused of being 'bewitched' and like a 'zombie' due to long-term tik use.

Friday 19 April marked two months since the tragic disappearance of the six-year-old girl Saldanha Bay Joshlin Smith from the poverty-stricken informal settlement of Middelpos.

This while the mother of the green-eyed Grade 1 Diazville Primary School pupil, Racquel “Kelly” Smith, is awaiting trial in Cape Town’s Pollsmoor Prison.

Kelly, her boyfriend Jacquen “Boeta” Appollis, as well as the couple’s close friends Steven van Rhyn and Lourentia ” Renze” Lombaard, have been charged with human trafficking and kidnapping in connection with Joshlin’s disappearance.

Joshlin Smith: ‘I did use tik’ – Kelly

During their first appearance at the Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court in March, the State, alleged that Kelly instructed Appollis and Van Rhyn to sell Joslin to another Middelpos man for R20 000 for muti.

The two men apparently made this grim confession after a gruelling 36-hour interrogation at Saldanha Police Station.

Joslin Smith
Patriotic Alliance (PA) leader Gayton McKenzie, left, and Kelly Smith, the mother of the missing Joshlin, and her boyfriend, Jacquin ‘Boeta’ Appollis. Photos via Facebook/ Gayton McKenzie

In a 27 February Facebook Live post, Kelly opens up to Patriotic Alliance (PA) leader McKenzie about her and Appollis’s drug use.

“At this moment, I’m clean. I did use tik. I’ve been clean for a week… I’m honest.”

ALSO READ: Joshlin Smith: Woman claims mom Kelly told her in jail where missing girl is

A quarter button and a ‘sakkie’ tik

Meanwhile, the couple’s friend Van Rhyn told McKenzie in a TikTok interview that he smoked some Mandrax with Appollis and Renze before Kelly arrived back at her Middelpos shack.

Joshlin Smith
Kelly Smith’s wooden shack in the Middelpos informal settlement. Photo: Gallo Images/ Brenton Geach

“We smoked a quarter button. The woman got up and asked Joshlin to check if her other child was still sleeping in another hokkie. She left and then both of them were never seen after that.”

Van Rhyn claimed that as soon as Kelly came home, she went to go and buy a “sakkie” tik with the money she earned from an odd job as domestic.

After smoking the tik, Van Rhyn said Joshlin was not in their “gedagtes” [thoughts] until later that evening.

Kelly turned into a ‘zombie’

According to Kelly’s mother, Amanda Daniels, her daughter left their home in Aggeneys, in the Northern Cape, to live with her teacher grandmother at the age of 13 in Saldanha Bay.

According to reports, Kelly passed matric and even did a couple of certificate courses before her tik addiction seemingly got the upper hand in her life.

“Oom” Dawid Louw told Rapport that in the 12 years that Kelly did some domestic work for him, she had undergone a marked transformation.

The 75-year-old Diazville resident said that her appearance now was unrecognisable from that of the woman he came to know 12 years ago.

Suspects In The Joslin Smith Disappearance Case Appear At Vredenburg Magistrate's Court
Kelly Smith during the Joshlin Smith disappearance case at Vredenburg Magistrate’s Court on 7 March 2024 in Vredenburg. Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach

He attributed her decline to a combination of longstanding tik use and the fact that she had befriended the wrong sangomas who had “bewitched” her and turned her into a “zombie”.

Louw claimed that the 33-year-old mother of three, who is reportedly pregnant again behind bars, told him that she had received offers to sell her little girl for muti.

ALSO READ: Muti murders in SA: Has Joslin Smith fallen prey to ‘occult economy’?

Was Joshlin sold to cover drug debt?

The references to Kelly being “bewitched” and like a “zombie” are similar to that of methamphetamine psychosis which is a serious potential side-effect of heavy tik use.

According to the website of the Cape Town rehabilitation centre Cherrywood House, tik is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant.

The fact that it is cheap (between R15 to R30 a “straw”) and widely available has fueled the high rate of tik addiction with users known to even steal the possessions and money of close family members to get their next fix.

Joslin Smith
Joshlin Smith’s mother Kelly Smith, right, has appeared in court in connection with her disappearance. Photos: YouTube screenshots/ SABC News

Jose Emke, Joslin’s biological father who lives in Springbok, told IOL that he suspects his daughter’s disappearance was likely linked to “drug debt”, which he claimed was racked up by Kelly and Appollis.

Downward spiral of tik addiction in Western Cape communities

The trafficking and use of tik has grown rapidly in South Africa and neighbouring countries in recent years, becoming a scourge in areas like the Western Cape. 

A 2023 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) points to a dramatic and alarming rise in tik use in South Africa between 2017 and 2022.

Tik is usually smoked, using a straw in a light bulb. The drug owes its name to the ticking sound it makes when it is heated to smoke.

The Ellen Pakkies story

The physical and emotional violence that comes with tik addiction takes its toll on the families of those addicted to the drug.

In 2007, the death of 20-year-old Abie Pakkies created a stir in South Africa and abroad. The most disturbing part of the case was that the murderer was none other than his own mother, Ellen.

ellen pakkies tik
A photo of Ellen Pakkies, titled ‘Here, on his bed’, features in world-renowned photographer David Goldblatt’s book ‘Ex-Offenders at the Scene of the Crime’. The lensman photographed Pakkies on the same bed where she strangled her son.

In the highly publicised case, Pakkies received a suspended sentence and put the spotlight on the country’s healthcare system that struggles to treat the rising number of tik and drug addicts.

According to Pakkies, her son started to change when he became addicted to tik when he turned 13.

Pakkies, who lives in Cape Town’s gang-ridden Lavender Hill, ultimately killed her son to escape the relentless torture of living with his emotional outbursts, violent attacks and demands for money.

Criminal behaviour of tik addicts

Abie’s drug-addiction also led to him stealing everything in the house he could sell. 

“Abie was a quiet child, very loving. When he said something, he made you laugh. At 13, he began to change, because he started using tik. From then on, it was downhill,” the heartbroken mother told IOL.

Pakkies even recounted how she often had to leave the house quietly because he would follow her, forcing her to draw money at the ATM until her wages were spent.

Where to get help

  • For more information or to get help with substance abuse, call the 24-hour Department of Social Development’s toll-free national helpline on 0800 1213 14 or visit your nearest Department of Social Development local office.