Showmax’s true crime documentary series Boetie Boer: Inside The Mind Of A Monster takes us back in time to 1990. This was the time that the African National Congress (ANC) party is unbanned in South Africa and Nelson Mandela is released after 27 years in prison. Stewart ‘Boetie Boer’ Wilken starts his killing spree in Port Elizabeth, now Gqeberha.
“Wilken was a highly unusual serial killer,” says director Jasyn Howes, who won Best SA Short Documentary at Jozi Film Festival for Dula. “Unlike most serial killers, he had more than one type of victim: predominantly female sex workers and young boys, usually street children, across multiple races. He also claimed to engage in necrophilia and cannibalism with his victims.”
“You paint this picture in your mind of this monster, and then you meet the person and he’s just a man. An old man, with no teeth, bifocal glasses, and a bad arm.” So says Howes about meeting Wilken, the subject Boetie Boer: Inside The Mind Of A Monster.
Billed as the most disturbing Showmax Original true crime series to date, the five-part documentary is now streaming on Showmax, with new episodes on Wednesdays until 15 November 2023.
Of course, Wilken’s is not the only perspective, so Howes balances his version of events with interviews with Dr Gérard Labuschagne, the former section head of the Investigative Psychology Section of the South African Police Services, former Child Protection Unit investigator Sergeant Ursula Barnard and Sergeant Derrik Norsworthy formerly of the Murder and Robbery Unit, who both played key roles in bringing Wilken to justice. In addition, Howes interviews Wilken’s own surviving children, Sonnika-Lee and Sergius, and the family of one of Wilken’s victims, Georgina Zweni.
When Howes started production on Boetie Boer, Wilken was theoretically up for 25-year parole in 2023. This seems unlikely now but still shaped the series. “Boetie Boer aims to remember Wilken’s crimes and his victims,” says Howes. “He preyed largely on un-homed, disenfranchised people that he thought would be easily forgotten; we’ve tried to help make sure that doesn’t happen.”
The five-part documentary series is a co-production between Stage 5 Films and Howes’ Fifth Floor Films. It’s the third documentary, and first true-crime docuseries, from Stage 5 Films, building on the success of Unearthed, which won the Green Award at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival and the Audience Award at Encounters, and The Journeymen, which took home Best SA Documentary at Durban.