Sterk Skemer

Genres: Drama, Mystery



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Season 1

Sterk Skemer is a South African mystery drama television series created by Paul C. Venter for SABC2 Afrikaans Drama and produced by Eklips which follows Balt Otto, an ex-policeman who applies for amnesty at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) for his role in the death of two students, only for a mystery to emerge when a third body is found in the shallow grave of his victims.

The series is primarily in Afrikaans, with English subtitles.

Sterk Skemer originally aired on SABC2 from 25 September to 27 November, 1999. There are 10 hour-long episodes in one season. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times.


Ex-policeman Balt Otto applies for amnesty and appears before the TRC. It concerns his involvement in the death of two coloured students who took an active part in the struggle sixteen years ago.

When the bodies are exhumed the forensic team discovers three bodies in the shallow grave - a fact that was unknown to Major Otto. He sanctioned the "execution" but was not present and has no knowledge of the third body.

It is also news to him that one of the students had a baby and that, after the "execution", the body disappeared without a trace. The mysterious third body is that of an adult and not the lost baby.

The policemen who executed Major Otto's instructions also have no knowledge of a third body or the baby.

Balt is eventually granted amnesty but this is unacceptable to the family of the victims – specifically to the only surviving brother, David. He decides to take revenge in his own time and in his own unique way.

While he and his family are gradually drawn into David's web of revenge, Otto also has other problems: his health is failing, he is unemployed, shunned by certain Afrikaners for taking part in the TRC process and the tension is threatening his marriage.

Can he, at the age of 50 and as an Afrikaner in this country start a new life? Is there still a place for him? Does he have the will and the strength?

There are also the puzzling questions from the past still to be answered: who was the third body in the shallow grave? Exactly what happened the night of the "execution"? Why do the people involved refuse to talk?

And what happened to the baby who, if it survived, must now be 16 years old?

The theme song was composed and performed by Paula Venter, with original music by Louis van Rensburg. The series was executive produced by Dalene Kotzé with producers Johan Bernard and Paul C. Venter. The series was directed by Danie Joubert.


Episode 1

Balt Otto, a retired major, applies for amnesty for his part in the death of two political activists. The activists' younger brother makes regular threatening calls.

Balt approaches an old friend, Silas Reynders, to find the person making the phone calls. Balt learn about a strange cairn that has been erected.

Episode 2

David is not happy about the amnesty results and intensifies his threatening calls. Silas warns David's father that the phoning must stop.

David phones again and speak to Balt's daughter, Tessa. She becomes hysterical and re-lives a very unhappy incident from her past. Balt and Lorrie find her and decide to move to the farm.

Episode 3

The tension sours Balt and Lorrie's relationship. The activistss families want to start a civil case against Bart but realize he has disappeared. The father approaches Silas for information but after a fight he falls from a high building.

Silas realizes that he must disappear for a while and arrives at Balt's. Balt starts removing the cairn but during the night Spieëltjie puts it back.

Episode 4

There is lot of tension on the farm. Tessa has problems with two other girls at school who are mocking her about her father. David and Ellen's search for Balt carries on.

Wynkan is thinking about the night of the execution by the activists when he saved Baba from their car. He asks Balt to leave the cairn and Spieëltjie is very happy about it.

Episode 5

Ellen and David hear about Tessa and the shooting incident. David finds out where she attends school and that there is a vacant position.

Balt and Lorrie's relationship worsens when he hangs a painting of the two children. Lorrie and David are definitely attracted to one another.

Episode 6

Lorrie find out that David's the new teacher and she tells Hennie who he really is. When he is confronted David says that he is looking for the lost child.

David tells Lena about Tessa's shooting incident and Lena writes it on the walls of the dressing room. David receives shocking news about his mother.

Episode 7

Silas uses the murder of Ellen to get his work back. It is alleged that David shot his own mother. Balt realizes the truth and Lorrie is shocked about their methods.

Lena is afriad the truth will come out about the writing on the dressing room walls, and she approaches David for help.

Episode 8

Lena tries to blackmail Hennie to keep quiet about the dressing room incident where Tessa got hurt. Silas's brother, Professor escapes from a drug rehabilitation centre and they realize that he is the father of the lost child.

Episode 9

Tessa and Spieëltjie confront Lena and Liesbet tells the truth. Balt expects David to make arrangements for Lorrie and Tessa to stay in town.

Professor arrives at the farm and wants to know from Silas what happened to the child. David follows the track to Elsie and find out that Propeller is Thandi's child.

Episode 10

Things come to a climax when David arrives at Balt's farm after a shooting incident on Wynkan's farm. The confrontation between Balt and David takes a surprising turn and the episode ends with a reconciliation that no truth commission can accomplish.


Note: rebroadcast dates included

Season 1 (10 episodes)

Channel: SABC2 | Premiere: 25 Sep 1999 | Finale: 27 Nov 1999 | Saturdays, 19h30
Channel: SABC2 | Premiere: 2 Feb 2010 | Finale: 6 Apr 2010 | Tuesdays, 19h30
Channel: SABC3 | Premiere: 3 Jan 2013 | Finale: 5 Feb 2013 | Random Weekdays, 02h00

Season 1 Cast

Balt Otto








Silas Reynders


Tessa Otto (as Barbara-Marie Venter)





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