Cromleigh, a family farm in Ixopo, South Africa that has been passed down for four generations has tragically been sold.
The wife and children of the 4th generation farmer, Peter Hackland had to regrettably let it go in July this year because their attempts at managing the farm in the past one year failed woefully.
Peter, who had farmed dairy, timber, sugar cane and citrus for 37 years, had been brutally murdered on the farm in May 2013 by two black youths, who had approached him for employment but suddenly pulled out guns and demanded cash.
Initially his inability to give money to Nkosinathi Mngadi, 29, and Sifiso Ngubane, 24, both of Kwamashu led to the torture of Peter’s daughter and farmhand who were with him on the farm at the time of the attack.
However, when he told Mngadi and Ngubane the second time that he had no money on the farm to give them, they shot him dead and bolted with his wallet and cell phone.
Peter, 61, had inherited the farm from his father, who had inherited it from his own father (Peter’s grandfather), who himself had inherited Cromleigh from his own father (Peter’s great grandfather).
Testifying in aggravation of sentence of Mngadi and Ngugane following their conviction for the murder of Peter, Cecelia, Peter’s widow and a former teacher before she resigned to run the farm, regretted that she had lost her “soul mate and protector”.
She recalled she was at work when the shocking news reached her: “I still have no memory of the events after I received the news. The next morning, I woke up to the realisation that Peter was dead.
“I had to go to the mortuary to identify his body, and all I could do was touch his body and I thought that this couldn’t be true… Peter couldn’t really be gone,” she told the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
“Peter ran the farm by himself. After his murder, my children and I were forced to resign from our jobs to keep the farm going. Neighbours and friends assisted us, but we could not sustain it, and we had to sell”, she explained why the farm had to be sold.
She was nostalgic, wiping her tears: “I miss him so much. I wake up in the middle of the night, hoping that he comes back,
“My children and I thank God for his life and for the amazing role he played in our lives. He made us strong and courageous. We salute him today.”
Mngadi and Ngubane, 24, of Kwamashu, had pleaded not guilty, claiming they were in KwaMashu at the time of the attack. However, the Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati found the evidence against them compelling, They were also convicted by the Judge of the assault of the couple’s daughter and the employee.
Taking the stand to testify in mitigation, Ngubane apologized to the Hacklands for what they were going through, but maintained his innocence.
“I am deeply sorry for what they went through, but my conscience and the Lord will bear me out, I had no involvement in the murder,” Ngubane said.
Defence advocates Kelvin Singh and Shaheen Seedat submitted that their clients were first offenders capable of rehabilitation. Both men were employed at the time of their arrests and were the sole breadwinners in their families.
Prosecutor Elsa Smith submitted that the court had a duty to society to impose a sentence of life imprisonment on the two accused.
She argued Ngubane’s apology was not a reflection of true remorse as he still “arrogantly maintains his innocence”.
“Not only was Peter Hackland’s family affected, but an entire community suffered the consequences of this heinous crime,” Smith said.
Smith referred to two recent farm murders in which the accused were sentenced to life in prison; one in Mid-Illovo, where farmer Mickey Hampson was killed, and in Richmond where Ekard Schutte, his wife, Elizabeth, and their son, Lutz, were brutally murdered.
“The message must be driven home that crimes of this nature will not be tolerated.”