06 June 2011

Kwaai Martha

Martha Johanna Ferreira was christened on 25 Oct 1772. She married Petrus Hendrik Ferreira in 1791 and died around 1839.

During the Black Circuit of 1812 - 1813, which was held in George, she became known as "Kwaai Martha" (Afrikaans for "Angry Martha") and was accused of beating her slave. Martha was described in court records as "a woman bearing all the appearance of a better than ordinary farmer's education".

Fort Frederick in Port Elizabeth
At her trial witnesses testifed that Martha beat her slave Manissa almost daily with a shambok (type of whip) and even caused Manissa to loose one of her eyes. On one particular day Manissa was sent to fetch wood. when Manissa didn't return after a while Martha followed her, but returned home without her. Coenraad De Buys was one of the communit members who testifed againsst her.

Later, about a half hours walk from the farmhouse, a bundle of firewood which was tied with twine was found. At that same location was a trail of bloody footprints, puddle of blood, a piece of taaiboshout (hardwood), dragmarks, 'n karos and the small footprints of Martha Ferreira.

This incident took place while Martha lived in the Blockhouse; this was more than likely at Fort Frederick. Fort Frederick was built in 1799 to defend the mouth of the Baakens River, Fort Frederick stands overlooking the Port Elizabeth Harbour.

Martha testified that Manissa, a Mozambican slave, was bought from an Englishman bought while they lived in Algoa Bay. She said that Manissa was very young, tender and small and that she had only chastised her except that she once hit on her back with a cane about five times.
Martha further testified that Manissa suffered from "Mozambiquean sickness" and that she died from bloodletting, adding that the night before her death, Martha looked after her for the whole night, reporting her death to Veldkornet Jan van Niekerk, her brother. She had another of her slaves, Esua bury Manissa's body.

Ten other charges were brought against Martha, for cruel and repeated ill treatment which had occasioned the death of no less than seven persons, namely the slave Steyn, the Hottentots Griet, Koosje, and Abigail, and the Hottentot Rachel, and the wounding or maiming the Hottentots Lys, Hendrik, and Klaas, most of all which under such circumstances as must strike with horror every person possessed of the least sense of feeling, and which, if proved, could not be attributed to sudden passion or anger, but to a most malicious and deliberate cruelty, such, as among others that after having inflicted several wounds on the Hottentot Rachel and maimed her in the head and other parts, she intentionally had her burnt alive with the hut in which she lived; and that the Hottentot Hendrik, who was very young, having remained some days out in the fields with the calves, she put his feet into a pot of boiling water, and having made a fire under it, the toes fell off in consequence.

During the hearing at George concluded. Martha Ferreira was completely acquitted of some of the cases, while others were dismissed due to lack of adequate witnesses. The only charge to which she was convicted, was wounding a slave on his head, for which a fine was imposed.

Martha's husband, Petrus, was also charged during the Black Circuit.  He was accused of taking away a little Hottentot named Kleinveld, and drove him on before his horse in such a manner that the horse trod on his stomach, in consequence of which he died four days afterwards.

Coenraad's testimony further alienating himself from the community there. A short while later, in 1813 Coenraad moved north to the central region of the Gariep River and gathered his extended family together with allies from the Khoi, Oorlams Afrikaners, Basters and Xhosa.

Geni.com: Martha Johanna Ferreira
Reeler Family Tree
Hornby Lodge

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