Romaine was born in Wellington, Cape Province, the only son of Christoffel Johannes. His education at South African College School extended from 1908 to 1913, and may have known [C12322] Douglas Herbert, the author's father, as he attended the same school over roughly the same period. His daughter Catherine writes as follows.
The Principal of the school Mr William Baxter found him to be an excellent student. In 1913 he wrote the Matriculation examination of the University of the Cape of Good Hope. In 1914 he joined the 5th South African Infantry, and was sent to East Africa. (The East African campaign under General J C Smuts lasted from 1916 till 1917 for most of the forces of South Africa.*1) At the end of 1917 he was discharged 'in consequence of being temporarily unfit for Tropical Service, due to Malaria and Dysentery'.
In 1916 under special regulations regarding students on active service he obtained his B.A. degree.
In January 1918 he became a Clerk in the Magistrates office in Caledon. As the War was still in progress he, after some time in the Magistrates Office, joined the Heavy Artillery. He was sent to England but by the time he arrived there the war had come to a close.
Upon his return to South Africa, he was again on the staff of the Magistrate's office in Caledon, where he remained until he was transferred to Wynberg Cape. At the Wynberg office he acted as Clerk of the Court and Acting Additional Magistrate.
From 1927 to 1940 he was on the relief staff as acting Magistrate and public prosecutor in Ligtenberg, Venterstad, Middelberg, Stellenbosch and De Aar. In 1931 he was awarded the LL.B by the University of South Africa, and subsequently was appointed additional Magistrate in Bloemfontein in 1941.
He married Mary Stiven Pope, born Wilson, in 1940 and later adopted her daughter Shenagh Rainier Pope. His son John was born in Bloemfontein on 9/6/1941. The family was transferred to Graaf Reinet in November 1941, and remained there for four years. Margaret Louise Addison was born 26 Dec 1912, a happy time for all, until the untimely transfer to Upington.
From a letter addressed to Romaine, dated 30 October 1945 the Chairman of the Native Advisory Board and the Vigilant Committee (Messrs A W Ramand and S Dan Malunga) it was apparent that he was held in high esteem by the coloured community for some act of kindness. Quote '...all you did here in the light of our non-Europeans for which you stood bravely in the light of justice to the cost of losing friendship amongst certain prominent citizens especially when you were on the Bench.'*2
He was a marked man from then onwards in the Justice Dept. and assessors were appointed to retry his cases. They failed.
His daughter Catherine (myself, the author) was born in Upington on 12 Jan 1946.
In April 1946 the family was transferred to Witbank where Romaine took up the senior Magistrates post. Again moved to another post in Nigel in 1951.
He never came to terms with the humiliation he faced during this period, and throughout a long correspondence with the various Secretaries for Justice, he was unable to obtain a satisfactory explanation for the treatment.
He retired as Magistrate in Nigel in August 1955, and moved to Springs, where the children went to school. In July 1955 Romaine petitioned to have his name removed from the Roll of Advocates of the Cape of Good Hope Provincial Division of the Supreme Court. In September of the same year he was admitted as Attorney - Transvaal Provincial Division. From then onwards to 1956 he acted as Assistant to Charles Sherman, a Solicitor in Springs. He practised as an Attorney in Johannesburg, commuting from Springs every day.
In the closing years of his life from 1959 to 1976, he was employed as Archivist in the Law Section of the Natal Archives, Pietermaritzburg. The children completed their schooling in Springs until 1961, and then went to Pietermaritzburg.
He died on the 6th June 1983.
Daughter Catherine stated in her letter, 'My father in particular taught me things I value and I have passed on to my children...and he had a lovely sense of humour'.
*1 To overlook this man's period of war service would not be correct. He served in the 5th South African Infantry. Private number 13531, 8th Platoon, 13 Company Nyasaland Contingent, under General Northy. He was in the peace training Service before joining up on 3rd May 1915. The troops boarded the ship 'Professor Woerman', sailed up to Beira, where they landed. They then were taken in barges up the Zambezi River to Chindeo and then on to Port Herald in Malawi. Proceeding to Songea in the North of Lake Malawi, the plan was to engage the German forces under General von Lettow Vorbeck. The German general and his forces were 'chased' and never really pinned down during the whole British campaign in East Africa, in fact Von Vorbeck only came in after the Armistice.
Romaine, like hundreds of others, suffered from dysentery malaria fever and hunger while marching in rain and mud. He was sent back to the Union to recover, and given a Certificate of Discharge 28 Aug 1916, for 'being temporarily unfit for tropical service for three months '. These three months were stretched to 30 Nov 1917, due to sickness, until the Proceedings on Discharge finally discharged him. For some strange reason Romaine again joined up to go to France in 1918, and arriving too late to fire a shot was again discharged on 30 Nov 1918.
*2 This must have been a very unpopular judgement against a prominent member of the European community. For this reason the following quote in one of his references is given below.
All those who knew him well found Leibbrandt to be of great integrity and compassion, a gentleman, a loyal friend and employee, a quiet man devoted to his family and above all, a man of intelligence with a sound knowledge of the law and a lover of justice, in the pursuit of which he was prepared to make sacrifices.