Court Martial of Breaker Morant - Heese Case

Heese Case

The final charge concerned the alleged murder of the German missionary, Reverend (Predikant) Heese, who had witnessed the massacre of the eight Boers the day before. Heese and a young black boy with him were both shot dead, leaving no witnesses to the previous day's event.

After the conclusion of the "Eight Boers" hearing, the prisoners were placed in irons, taken to Pretoria by rail under heavy guard and tried on the third main count. It opened on 17 February, with the prosecution alleging that Heese had been shot by or at the behest of Morant after leaving Fort Edward — even though there were no eyewitnesses to the killing and no hard evidence to link Morant to Heese's death.

The entire case was based on the testimony of one trooper, and there is good reason to suspect that Heese may in fact have been killed by a Boer sniper, since he was shot once, from the front, apparently while driving his wagon. Witton reports that it was several days before rumours of Heese's death reached Fort Edward and that it was a further two days before Heese's body was located by a trooper sent to search for it — on Morant's own orders.

Morant's supposed motivation for murdering Heese was that he feared Heese was going to report the killing of Boer prisoners he had just witnessed, or because Morant suspected him of being a spy. In hindsight, it is equally likely that Heese may have been killed by Boers who suspected him of being a British spy.

It was also alleged that, in two separate incidents, Carbineer soldiers had opened fire on Boer civilians, killing several people including three children and a teenage boy.

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