Raaiselkind (2017) - full transcript

A nine-year-old autistic boy is found dead in the bath tub. His mother Ingrid, who spent her life caring for him and loved him dearly, is being investigated for murder.

It's standard procedure.

Lift your arms, please.

Open your legs, please.

Mrs. Dorfling.

Mrs. Dorfling…

by now you are aware that…

your son is dead. Is that right?

Do you know why you're here?

What happened to your son, Mrs. Dorfling?

How did he die?

-He drowned.

-In the bath.

Early morning.

Did you know he was bathing?

No, I…

I quickly went to my room.

I sat for a moment.

Who ran the bathwater?

I did.

Why would you run the bathwater…

if you intended to go and lie down?

I wanted to bathe Alexander.
He didn't want to.

When the…

weather moves in, it unsettles him.

I gave up. I was tired.


I must have fallen asleep.

How old was your son, Ma'am?


So at the age of nine,

you still needed to bath him

and he still threw tantrums?


if I didn't bath my son,

then he never would have bathed.

His 'tantrums'…

as you put it…

were not those of a naughty child

that didn't get his way.

He couldn't help it.

He had to calm himself.

You just said that you had to bathe him.


would he have bathed himself?



Alexander didn't like bathing.

He was scared of the plug,

that it would suck him in.

He wouldn't have climbed in by himself.

Mrs. Dorfling…

let's start at the beginning.

Were you a happy family?

The tunnel was dark and dusty,

and Poppie was relieved
when they got to the exit.

The exit was next to the
fountain in the castle's garden.


The water sprayed through a
fish into a shell-shaped bowl.

Poppie threw the coin into the water.

"It's my dream to find the lost treasure",

she said excitedly.


That's my grandfather's name.

What if the doctor is wrong?

Maybe it's a little girl.


It won't be.

I saw his thing-a-ling.

Oh no.

-Yes, for sure.

But his father's son.

So you both wanted the child?

Of course.

Almost ten years after the
birth of the previous one.

We were surprised…

but overjoyed with the
idea of another baby.

A child.

And you were happy?


It's just cramps.

Get the prescription I gave you.

A lot of babies struggle with them.

It… It will blow over.

"Reflux" they call it English.

It's when the milk flows
back into the baby's throat.

It's similar to heartburn.

It burns the baby's throat severely

and his throat is blood red.

Get the stuff I prescribed
from the pharmacy,

many babies have it.

It will blow over.


-Will it never stop?

It will.

He's a baby and babies cry.

But Annie's baby sister
don't cry this much.

Annie's baby sister is a year old.

Don't worry, my love.

Not long now, things will get better.


Sleep tight.

A homoeopath?

A homoeopath!

I thought the natural approach might help.

So, what did the homoeopath say?

He gave Alexander a syrup.

Bloody waste of money.

Ms. Ingrid.

Today we need to put our heads together.

We can't push the stroller
day in and day out,

up and down the street,
just to keep Boetatjie quiet.


There's this old lady,

just down the road from me,

that knows how to make dagga tea.

Do you want me to get Boetatjie a bottle?



Get one, let's test it.

I have to go.

Come, we're going to be late.

You don't have to worry, Ma'am.

The paediatrician
works with this regularly.

He'll know exactly what to do.

Thank you, Doctor.

Thank you.

I can't take this anymore, Ingrid.

My work is suffering.

If I've aged in eight months,

I can't imagine how Miriam feels.

It's not even her child.

Maybe I should get someone to
help with washing and ironing.

Don't be ridiculous.

We're not making ends meet.

Zettie's talking about a youth camp and…

Theresa wants a new racquet.

I didn't even hand in
the offering last month.

Just a thought.

Yes, but your thought is ludicrous.

One thing is certain.

We're not leaving the
specialist until we have answers.

I want to know what's
wrong with the child.


I can't find anything to be worried about.


the little chap is healthy.

You know, some children

have a tendency to be colicky.

Maybe it's a milk allergy.

Could be the breastfeeding.

I'll prescribe soya milk,

as well as a new type of sleep syrup.

Start with solids.

The little guy is underweight.

If nothing changes within two weeks,

bring him back to me.

Thank you.

I got numerous references.

He's the best.

For crying out loud, Ingrid.

We were there less than half an hour.

He's a specialist.

We have to accept his consultation…

Specialist be dammed!

What did he do for our child?

Dumped some crap on us.

He said we can bring Alexander back

and we don't have to pay again.

What for?

What for, Ingrid?


For us!

For our child!

His hearing is 100%.

What worries me,

is his very strange behaviour.

I would advise you to get him to the.

Red Cross Children's Hospital
in Cape Town as soon as possible.

Just for further testing.

Dammit, Ingrid.

For three years,

we've seen one doctor after another.

You're listening to crap.

I'm the one who has to grovel to the bank
manager for a higher limit every month.

But you always have money for poker.

At least my poker money
bought the child a horse.

What did you jumping from
one quack to the other achieve?

We're still his mother and father.

I won't stop searching
until I get answers.

Your searching will lead to
us having to sell another policy.

Are you out of your mind, Dawid?

Don't tell me you sold a policy.

What the hell was I
supposed to do, Ingrid?

Do you think money falls from the sky?

I think just wait outside. Please.

I'm fine.

Alex, come on.

Come on, my boy.

Mr. and Mrs. Dorfling…

your son is autistic.

What does that mean?

Autism is a severely incapacitating,
lifelong developmental disability.

It's a neurological disorder that
effects the functioning of the brain.

There is only one treatment
that has stood the test of time

and that is the use of
structured education programmes.

I'll give you some more
information on the subject.

Did you receive any support…

from family, friends, the community?


My parents are deceased

and Dawid's parents
couldn't stand Alexander.

And all my friends left
after Alexander was born.

Thought he was ill-mannered.

And the church?

I believe in God the Father…

the Almighty,

the Creator of heaven and earth.

And in Christ Jesus,

His only begotten Son, our Lord.

Come, my boy.


Come, baby. Come, let's go home.

Come. Come.

Alexander, come.

Come. Come.

There you go.

Ms. Ingrid.

I will look after Boetatjie on
Sundays, so that you can go to church.

Thank you Miriam but
I'm not welcome there.

Thank you.

Maybe you can use the
time to get a little rest.

Boetatjie and I have a date.

And friends,

we must remember;

We must cheer.

We must rejoice.

Just like that, my friends.

We must remember to cheer and rejoice.

Oh Lord, our Father.

Praise His name.

His precious name.

Praise His name.

His precious name.

The name of the Lord Jesus,

must be praised.

It's strange how…

white and coloured people differ.

How Miriam's people accepted
Alexander for who he is.

And my people…

rejected me…

forgot, condemned me.

And Miriam?

How often did she take care of your son?

Every day.

Her name was the only word he knew.

-Wait, wait, wait.

Mimmi's going home, okay?

I am going to bathe you.

-I am going to bathe you.

Let go!

-Just give me two minutes.

and then it'll be over…


Was Miriam at the house this morning?


She went to the church for the weekend.


Jeremia, don't let the bread over-rise.

When you see it's on the edge of the pan,
you must put it in the oven.

I need to open up the chicken pen,

and collect dry firewood for tomorrow.

You know I'm sleeping
over at Diekertjie's mom.

Jeremia? Do you hear me?

How can I not hear you?

You're in my face.

Don't think I'm stupid not to see

that money is missing
from my "God's bottle".

The Lord will have no mercy

if you use His "Gods Bottle"
to pay your domino debt.

For God's sake Miriam, leave me alone.

And He will strike you down

if you utter His name in vain.

Does she have a key for the house?


So she could have returned this
morning while you were sleeping.

No, I know that they left early this
morning for the big church meeting.

But there's a possibility

that she could have accessed the house

while you were sleeping.

Colonel Heselmann…

Miriam is…

an honest and reliable person.

She's my only refuge.

My only friend.



Mirriam, please take him for me.

How do you cope with
him every day, Miriam?

With the cleaning and…

dishes, washing and everything.

My people don't mind
taking care of other's children.

Ms. Ingrid, remember…

for many years we
didn't have places to send our kids

if they weren't right in the head.

Let alone school.

Township people band together

to help raise a dim-witted child.

At night, he sleeps
under his mother's roof.

But by day, he's everyone's problem.

You are right, Miriam…

white people only share each other's joy…

not their sorrows.

You mean a lot to Alexander.

To me as well.


The autopsy report says
the child didn't drown.

I have this nagging feeling
she had help from someone.

So who supported her enough,

to assist her with this.

The Miriam woman?

Bring her in.

I'm sure she has lots of stories to tell.

Right away, Colonel.

Good day, good day.

Are you Mrs. Miriam Slangveld?

What's the matter with you?

You know who I am.

Aunty Miriam,

Colonel Heselmann sent
me to come and talk to you.

About what?

Is it Jeremia?

No, no, no, we went to him.

He told us you were here in
the kloof for the big church event.

They want to talk to you
about the woman you work for.

Not the woman actually, her child.

You mean, Boetatjie?

Ms. Ingrid's Boetatjie?

Yes, Aunty Miriam.

Is he missing?

He's not missing…

he's dead.

You're lying.

He drowned

in the bath.

Mrs. Slangveld?

Just a few questions.

The death of Alexander
Dorfling is relatively unique.

It's strange that Boetatjie
would have drowned,

he was afraid of bathing.

Exactly how we understood it.

Mrs Slangveld, tell me,

how long have you been
working for Mrs Dorfling?

Must be about thirteen years now.

You know that the child was autistic?


Ms Ingrid explained it to me very nicely.

I was trained to handle it.

Come on Boetatje, eat something.

I'll stir it for you.

Stirring it, there we are.

Oh my gosh,

What's the matter?

My child.

No, wait.

Abnormal responses.

Abnormal development of speech.

Abnormal way of responding
to people and objects.

Once an autist, always an autist.

How could none of the other
specialists have seen this?

Are you trying to tell me that
this chaos will last forever?


people with autism can and do get better.

They can live happy and productive lives…

when the appropriate
treatment is introduced.

I am exhausted.

I'm tired of struggling…

and being pushed aside.

I'm tired of struggling
with money and doctors.

I can't live in the same
house as that child.

God knows, Ingrid, I can't.

If only I could…

If only…

Do you think I'm losing my mind?


We know what it is.

For the first time in years,
we now know what it is.

It has a name.

And we now know that…

Alexander can't help it.

A sunbeam.

A sunbeam.

Jesus is calling me, for a sunbeam

A sunbeam

A sunbeam

Let me stay a sunbeam

A sunbeam

A sunbeam

Jesus is calling me, for a sunbeam

A sunbeam

A sunbeam

Let me…

stay a sun-beam

So, Mrs. Slangveld,
you tolerated the child?

Not tolerated, loved.

Boetatjie was a smart boy,
even though people thought otherwise.





"Bread tin in the sun."

Boetatjie, you little bugger.

Look at this.


Were there any other family or friends

who had contact with the child?

Daughters, but they are at university.

Seldom come home.

No one could tolerate Boetatjie.

Each and every friend left Ms. Ingrid.

The only other person she saw was Gunter.

How does the horse know
Alexander is sleeping?

I mean, it's an animal.

Animals are different from people.

Does Lucy have a soul, like a person?

Who knows?

But if she didn't have a soul,

she wouldn't have the instinct
to know Alexander is sleeping.

So if she has instinct…

maybe she has a soul.

Are you saying animals have souls?

Don't pry Ingrid.

These are questions
that don't have answers.

It's senseless to dwell on it.

There we are…

There we are.

There we are.

Come, my boy.

And did Gunter visit regularly?


I have…

I only saw Gunter on Sundays.

Alexander and I.

Lucy was kept at Gunter's farm.


The horse that Dawid won for Alexander.


Don't hurt Lucy.


Okay, come.

Let's go, let's go.


Are you ready?

Let's go, my boy.

Give me your leg.

One, two, three.

Wow, look at you.

Look at you.

There we are.

Let's go, let's go.

Let's go with Alexander.

Take care of Alexander.

Off you go.

Off you go.

Yes, you refuse to wear shoes?

Give me your pocket knife.

Let's have a look.

I can do it myself.


Stay there.

What type of relationship
did you have with

this Gunter?

Gunter was my husband's friend.

He's just a friend and…

he accepted Alexander for who he was.

Me as well.

Was there a love interest between
Mrs Dorfling and the chap on the farm?


If I had a wish,

I would have wished
Ms Ingrid into his arms.

If there was then I knew nothing about it.




Mr. Gunter,

how did you become aware
of Alexander Dorfling's death?

The police constable that came
to fetch me from my home told me.

And what did he tell you?

That Alexander drowned.

Mr Gunter did you visit Mrs
Dorfling often at her home?


Have you ever been there?


Do you think Mrs Dorfling
is relieved that Alexander is…

out of her way?

Out of your way?


Ingrid loved Alexander.

She protected him for years.

But you don't think she got
tired of looking out for him,

taking care of him?

No, Ingrid was…

she is a good mother.

You only saw her on Sundays?


So it's accurate to say
that you did not really know

what she did with him at home?

You need to take better
care of Alexander's feet, Ingrid.

He'll step on something
rusty and get septicemia.

You must teach him to wear shoes.

He refuses to wear shoes.

If I try tending to his feet,
he kicks me in the face.

Why is he allowing me
to take out the thorns?

Because you're not me.

What do you think
happens in someone's head

when he finds pleasure in hurting himself?

How does he do that?

And what makes you think
he gets pleasure doing it?

When I watch him, I have to believe…

he gets pleasure doing it.

His eyes light up and…

his hands flap faster than usual.

There seems to be…

a demonic energy flowing from him.

He does it with…

anything and everything
he lays his hands on.

You shouldn't leave things lying
around which might hurt him.

Cupboard clips and door hinges
aren't exactly laying around.


what do you think is going
on inside Alexander's head?

Honestly, Ingrid, I don't know.

Mrs Dorfling…

have you ever considered
hurting yourself or your son?


Maybe considered suicide or…

thought it would be easier…

if Alexander…

should die.

Mom, I can't study if
Alexander keeps on like this.

Can't you do something to stop him?

What must I do?

How do you expect me to concentrate?

For goodness sake, Theresa.

Why don't you stop him?

Why must I do everything?

All day, every day,
I am on my feet and if you three…

Stop taking out your bloody
moods out on the child!

-It's not moodiness…
-So what then?

Don't worry…

What's the matter with you?

Are you satisfied?

If you three had a little more patience…

Shut up! Shut your mouth!

I won't shut my mouth!

If you'd just stop lying
in front of the television, drinking!

Shut your mouth or I'll do it for you!

Do you hear me?

Is that what you want?

Let me go.

Let me go!

Leave me alone!

Ingrid. Ingrid.

Leave me alone!

Leave me alone!

Sorry I… I…

I don't know what…


I wish either myself or Alexander
would just die!

That's a terrible thing to say.

Mom, please can you
put him into an institution.

You know very well
there are no such institutions here.

-Alexander can't help it…

Are there really no institutions?

Or do you not want to know about them?

And if there were,
would you have put him there?

My child…

If I don't stand up for
Alexander and protect him…

Don't think I will cover for him.

You're sacrificing everything you have…

for him!

And Theresa and I are nothing.

Nothing, Mom, nothing!

That's not true.

-That's not true.
-Whatever, Mom.

I'm not going to listen to this crap.

If I wasn't there to protect him…

who would've?


Is this the bloody time to come home?

I said, is this the time to come home?

I was working, Dawid.

We're very busy.

Working, you say?

What about your house and your children?

Who do you think must look
after that little howling bugger?

We are very busy.

I can't just storm out and expect…

You know the child is sick,
but you give Miriam the weekend off.

And you know,
Friday nights are poker nights.

I'm here now.

Stop moaning and go play your poker.

To hell with poker. That's not the point.

You're in any way too drunk
to hold the cards.

You better shut your child's mouth.


His name…

is Alexander!

And he's your child too!

You better shut him up…

or I'll go mad and strangle him.






Don't do that!

I told you to open your damn ears!

But you don't listen!

Come here, you little shit!

Come here!

Come here! How many times? Let me go!

Leave me alone!


Hey, my boy.


It's okay.


I'm here.

I'm busy with the washing,
the dishes and the food.

-Can you please…
-Mom, I…

Alexander, please stop.

Naughty boy.


I'm busy…


Please hang the washing up for me.

You can wait.

Tidy up here and clean your room, please.

I don't care, go and tidy your room.

Alexander, please!

Hey, stop…

Mom, please.

Please go and tidy your room.

And take your pens and pencils with you.


Zettie, come eat. I'm done talking!



No, no, no…

No. No.


Zettie, Theresa, come help!

Come help me!

Dawid, don't go.

I can't…

Mrs. Dorfling…

Why did your husband…

He was…

physically and emotionally…


From this Valkenburg,

I have run away.

I think back to Gordons Bay.

Playing with tadpoles in a stream.

Carving swastikas in a red-krantz tree.

I am the dog that runs on the beaches

and barks in the evening breeze.

I am the gull
that swoops in famished flight.

Serve up dead nights as a meal.

The god that shaped you from the wind,

to find pain in your perfection.

My body lies washed up in weed and grass,

in all the places where we once did pass.

Mrs. Slangveld…

why did Mrs Dorfling murder the child?

Just as much as the dog's arse,
would Ms. Ingrid have murdered Boetatjie?

Tonight I will speak the truth.
God will take my tongue if I'm lying.

Come. There you go.

There you go.


She's guarded. Not a word.

Is there a reason why Mrs. Dorfling
decided to only act now?





It's always the money.

Two months ago you made
a premium adjustment on your son's policy.

Increased his death liability.


I wanted to make sure…

that provision was made for Alexander.

Before I know it,
he would've been a grown man.

What would become of him
if something had happened to me?

But if he dies before you, then…

the policy is paid out to you.

How are your finances, Mrs. Dorfling?

Lucy is worth much more
than 800 rand, Ingrid.

I'll give you two thousand rand
and life-long riding rights for Alexander.

Don't make it more difficult than it is.

You know that horse
is not worth that much.

Lucy is worth much more than the money.


She's old and past her prime.


And Lucy?

I don't know why she wanted to sell Lucy.
I did not ask her.

Why not?

If she wanted to, she would have told me.

But you had a connection,
maybe even a relationship.

Mr. Gunter, do you think Mrs. Dorfling

would have murdered
her son for her freedom…

and a…

happy life.

Colonel Heselmann.

Ingrid gave her life to Alexander.

She would have done nothing to hurt him.

And you?

No, Colonel Heselmann,

I wouldn't have.

Mrs. Slangveld…

as you know, the child apparently drowned.

Now why would Mrs. Dorfling want to
bath him at that time of the morning?

He was dirty?

Why would he be dirty
that time of the morning?

Sometimes he was too slow
to get his pants off in time.

But he didn't want to bath,
so Mrs. Dorfling left him?

Would she have left him
if he messed in his pants?


Then it would be because he refused
to bathe the previous night.

Boetatjie did the same morning and night.

Ms. Ingrid always told me
How important routine was for him.

So he'd bath in the morning
if he didn't bathe in the evening.

Do you think he would have gotten
into the bath by himself?

Not him.

He was afraid of lots of water.

If he stood near lots of water,
he would have a fit.

Was Mrs. Dorfling ever
violent towards the child?

What do you mean…


Mrs. Slangveld…

the child's body is full of lacerations

and ugly sores.

There's a scar on his forehead
and bruising around his neck.

Who abused him?

If Boetatjie was abused,

it's because he abused himself.

He was a head butter.
On the floor, against the walls.

Boetatjie, you're hurting yourself.
Come, come here.

And the bruising around his neck?

Did he strangle himself too?

No… no…

He didn't strangle himself.

Do you honestly believe
I killed my own son?

You were the only one in the house
at the time of the murder.



That's what we need you
to explain to us, Mrs. Dorfling.

How did you murder your son?

Come, let me tell you
what I think happened.

You are so attached
to your autistic son, Mrs. Dorfling…

that your husband and daughters
condemned you.

He commits suicide,

because of financial
and emotional problems.

And now you are alone.

On your own,
there's nobody to take care of you.

You have no more friends, just Gunter.

Yes. He gives you attention.

He understands you.

But now Alexander is a problem,
he's in the way.

And you need to make a plan.

You belong to Alexander
till the day you enter your grave!

But no!

You are looking
for true love and happiness!

Stop. Please just stop!

How is it, Mrs. Dorfling,

that an innocent mother
fails to shed a tear

over the death of her beloved son?

Aren't you heartbroken?

I am.

I am.

I found my son…

in a bath full of water.


Stone dead.

Have you any idea what I
have been through, Colonel?

For nine years…

For nine years…

I was tortured.

You sit there and pretend
that you don't know me.

You sit there and pretend that
you don't know, but you know!

All of you knew.

You all witnessed what I went through.

For nine years…

For nine years…

I did not exist.

I lost everything.

My husband, my daughters, the church,
my friends. And now he's dead.

He's dead. He's dead.

He's dead!

He's dead.

How am I supposed to feel?


Never again.

Never again…

will I open the broom cupboard…

and see him curled up with
the cheese spread bottle in his hand.

Never again will his chisel blows
keep me awake.

And never, never, ever…

ever again…

will the feathers dance in my house?

If the weather changes…

I'll wonder…

who will sing Jesus's Sunbeam to him?

Do you know…

what it feels like to lose yourself?

My child is dead.


He's dead.

I am dead.

Mommy? Daddy?

Are you okay?

It's a disgrace that you had
to wait out here in the cold.

It's better than inside.

It's a terrible thing that
happened with Ms. Ingrid.

I saw Boetatjie last night.

How come?

Where were you?

I need to talk to the officer,
it's very urgent.

The Colonel or the investigator, Ma'am?

Don't waste my time, the woman.

The woman that's handling the case.

Aunt Miriam!

-Aunt Miriam can't…
-She's here.

Mrs. Slangveld.

Forgot something?

I just want to say something about
the bruises on Boetatjie's neck.

So now you know something?

Boetatjie always had bruises
after he'd been to the hairdresser.

Yesterday afternoon Ms. Ingrid
took him for a haircut.

How do you know?

Katrien, my daughter,
works at the hairdresser.

She told me about the
struggle to get him to sit still.

Hey, my boy.



Alexander, come.

Come here, my boy.

Okay, quickly…

quickly, quickly, okay.

It'll be quick.

Okay, okay, here we go.


Katrien, just leave him.

It'll be quick, my boy.

Don't do that.

Just hold him like that.

Keep your head still, my boy.

Keep still. Alexander!

So, if Boetatjies neck was bruised,

it wouldn't have surprised me.

Thank you, Mrs. Slangveld.

Seems like there's a
reason for everything.

Sometimes a reason, sometimes an excuse.

There is one thing no one can explain.

Was it murder?

It's your decision.


Mrs. Slangveld?

Mrs. Slangveld, a moment, please.


you said that the Dorfling boy had fits,
am I right?

Yes, Sir.

Ms. Ingrid called them epileptic fits.

And he had them often?

Yes, Sir.

She showed all of us how to inject him,
when Boetatjie's eyes rolled over.

You also mentioned,

that he was afraid of water.

Yes, Sir.

He would never go near a bath
or swimming pool or the sea,

unlike other kids, he was afraid.

When Boetatjie came close to water,

his eyes would roll over

and Ms. Ingrid had to talk him out of it
or inject him.

Thank you. That's all, you may go home.



Did Alexander suffer from epilepsy?

Dammit, Ingrid, it's important!


He had no water in his lungs.

There are only two ways this could happen.

He either suffocated
or it was secondary drowning.

How often did Alexander
have epileptic fits?

When last did he have one?

Okay, we'll see you tomorrow.



Hey, my boy.

I'm here…

Mommy's here, look at me.

Look at me.

Open your eyes.

There we go.

Let's go to the clock and listen.

Tell me exactly…

what happened when you
discovered Alexander in the bath.




Alexander, let's go rest for a while.

Bitter-berry daybreak.

Bitter-berry sun.

A mirror has broken between me and him.

I try to find the highway to run away.

But everywhere the paths
of his words lead me astray.

Pinewood remember, pinewood forget.

However much I lose my way
I step on my regret.

Parrot-coloured echo
tricks me, tricks me on.

Until I turn beguiled to
retrieve the mocking song.

Echo is no answer.

He answers everyone.

Bitter-berry daybreak.

Bitter-berry sun.