The Ferreira Skeletons

Recently I borrowed ‘Panorama of Port Elizabeth’ by E.K. Lorimer from friend Sue Hoppe, as it contained the story of Thomas Ignatius Ferreira one of the ancestors, related to the Hippert family that I have been researching. 

According to Lorimers book, Ferreira was not a very pleasant character and appointed himself a kind of unofficial commandant of the empty Fort Frederick.  When Governor Janssens paid an official visit to Algoa Bay, Ferreira was arrested and convicted on charges of theft, corruption and “disturbing the peace by cruelties that cry to high heaven, committed against the inhabitants of the land”.

Ferreira was not the only man guilty of acts of appalling cruelty, but Ferreira and his relatives were apparently the worst offenders.  These ignorant “colonists” had also been guilty of removing palisades erected round the blockhouse to make kraals for their cattle, a minor crime compared with the cruelties inflicted on coloured people who came up against them. 

Ferreira’s brutality warranted the death penalty, but the Governor considered it more politic to impose a lenient sentence, party because a considerable period of time had elapsed since the alleged offences.  Ferreira and all his family were banished to Swellendam and put under the surveillance of the Landdrost.

Later I bought the book Ferreira Family by Janet Melville and Emmarentia S Ferreira and found the story of “Kwaai Martha” the daughter of Thomas.

Extract from Ferreira book printed August 2003, page 14:

She was known as ‘Kwaai Martha’ – angry Martha.  From court records we learn that she was ‘a woman bearing all the appearance of a better than ordinary farmer’s education’.  In the court hearings, evidence is given that Martha almost daily hit her slave woman Manissa with a sham bock.  During one such a lashing Manissa lost one of her eyes.  On a certain day she send Manissa to collect fire wood, but when she did not return Martha followed her and by night time returned with out Manissa.  Later a bundle of firewood tied together with tulips was found approximately 30 minute walk from the house, also found was a bloody footprint, blood stain, drag marks, and the small footprints of Martha.  Martha explained to the court that Manissa was a Mozambique slave that she bought from an Englishman during their stay in Algoa Bay.  Manissa had the disease called ‘Mozambiqusche’ and died from ‘blood in her stool’.  The day before her death Martha took care of Manissa the entire day and night, when Manissa died she reported her death to Jan van Niekerk her brother in law, and the slave Esau buried Manissa.  Several other cases was brought against Martha but she was acquitted on all charges except one, the wound on the head of Hendrik  for which she received a fine.

Research indicates that Manissa most probably had Malaria.

I am sure that we all have some weird and wonderful characters in our ancestry, people that did great things and then some who wasn’t so great.  Should one sit and think about it for a minute, does it really matter that not all of them were hero’s and explorers but everyday ordinary people like most of us.

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