A white tent pitched in a family’s small, immaculately swept backyard rustles in the strong wind.
Five men sat hunched under the shaking shelter, brought together by a terrible tragedy.
Four days earlier (Thursday 24 October), their daughter, 22-year-old GaoneNgake was brutally murdered by her jealous boyfriend at Mphane farm on the outskirts of Borolong.
Ngake, the mother of a 20-month-old albino daughter, was beaten to within an inch of her life. Terrified but helpless, she did not have the strength to resist when her lover of just two months, Kgopolo Matsela, 31, tied a wire around her neck.
He forced her to climb a stepladder and hanged her from the roof of the room they shared.
Satisfied that Ngake was dead, Matsela then hanged himself.
It was the third and final life he took that day.
Meters away, in an adjacent bedroom within the farmhouse where the couple worked, lies the dead body of 25-year-old Oaitse Bugalo Morotsi.
The young farm hand, a distant cousin to Matsela, was tortured and killed by his older relative, hacked with a pickaxe and repeatedly beaten with an iron rod.
It appears Matsela’s deadly rage, fuelled by alcohol, was sparked by his paranoia that Morotsi and Ngake were sleeping together.
Attempting to make sense of the devastation, Ngake’s aunt, Toy Fulukani revealed a fight ensued on Wednesday night when her niece and Matsela returned home from a bar.
“The neighbours heard the quarrel. The following day our daughter was found hanging with a bruised left cheek like she was beaten with a hammer,” narrated Fulukani, sat huddled under the white tent as her family listen intently on.
“The crime scene was horrible. Gaone’s braids were all over the place, which shows they were removed when she fought for her life. My niece was a kind, respectful and quiet girl. She loved her daughter very much,” she continued, gesturing sadly at the toddler sat shyly on an elder’s lap.
Deeper in the village, less than 500m from the crime scene, and another white tent provides shade to a mourning family.
Their grief is mixed with shame and horror.
The dead killer’s mum, Gaborone Matselawas at a loss to explain her son’s actions.
“He was a quiet person, who kept to himself. You could never imagine he was capable of such evil. What happened is very painful,” said Gaborone, sniffing backtears as The Voice left the tormented lady to grieve in peace.
The family then summon a nervous-looking youth, 22-year-old TumeloKetshabile.
A close friend of Matsela’s, Ketshabilegives a startling insight into what transpired on the fateful day.
“Kgopolo (Matsela) called me in the morning to pump his engine. When I arrived, I found Bugalo (Morotsi) badly hurt. He could not sit up. His waist was broken and his neck bent.
“He could hardly move and weakly asked me for a glass of water. I got it for him but it failed to pass his throat. Gaone was sitting there with a bruised face. I took the engine and left,” narratedKetshabile, adding he did not think the situation was serious enough to warrant calling the police.
It is a decision that will haunt the young man forever.
“I went back to the farm at around 12 to return the engine. There were some kids playing in the yard and they said Kgopolo told them I should come back later because the boss was there.
“About four hours later I instructed the kids to go and check if the boss was still there. They came back screaming that they found people hanging,” whispered Ketshabile.
“Gaone and Kgopolo were hanging beside each other in the house in the room they shared. There was a stepladder next to them, I think he used it to makeGaone climb.
“I rushed to Babusi’s room where I found his body next to a pickaxe, pieces of planks and iron rods which Kgopolo must have used to kill him,” ended Ketshabile, his face pale with regret as he addsMatsela recently revealed his suspicion that Morotsi was in love with his girlfriend.
A short distance away isMorotsi’s family home.
There is no white tent here. Instead, mourners are gathered in the shade of an overgrown Mopane tree.
The murdered man’s father, Clement Julias has the same lost look in his eye as Matsela’s mum and Ngake’s aunt.
“I was called to the farm only to find my son dead. I feel so much pain and there is nothing I can do. I cannot put the blame on anyone because the people who know what happened are dead!” exclaimed Julias.