South African Ghosts
South Africa is filled with special haunted places, ghosts can be found at sea, on old battlefields, sitting with you in a restaurant, or in your mind 😉
The ghosts of South Africa couldn’t be more varied. You’ll find killers and victims, poltergeists and spooky transport riders, battlefield spirits and road death spirits. Each one gives you another little insight into South Africa’s back story. But most of all, they provide for cracking good entertainment.
The southern seas of Africa are among the most treacherous in the world. Circumnavigating the continent was especially risky for earlier boats, and if navigating the waters wasn’t tough enough they also had to contend with the most famous ghost ship in maritime history.
Legend has it that in the mid-17th century a Dutch trader, Der Fliegende Hollander (The Flying Dutchman), ran into trouble while rounding the Cape. It now sails the seas in search of other ships to take messages home to their loved ones.
Issie Smuts, the wife of statesman Jan Christiaan Smuts, was adamant that their Irene house, Doornkloof, now Smuts House, was haunted.
Of most interest was her regularly sighting of a ghost of an elderly man with ‘a Kruger-style set of whiskers’. He is claimed to be the keeper of a secret regarding the whereabouts of Boer treasure buried on the property.
The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building still in use in South Africa. And the most haunted. For over a century it was the centre of life in the settlement. There was ceremony, glittering balls, and extravagant banquets. There was also disease and the horror of executions. It is little wonder that it is full of apparitions, including those of Pieter Noodt, the most hated of all Cape governors, and the beautiful Lady Ann Barnard who haunts the ballroom. Built in the 1600’s as a fort protecting Cape Town harbor against invaders, many slaves were imprisoned and tortured to death in it’s walls, so one would imagine a few unhappy spirits might be haunting it’s corridors. Open to the public as a museum of sorts, the infamous ‘hole’, a tiny cell with no windows, was used to torture the inmates. A complete black hole, no sunlight entered this cell. After some time in the hole, the prisoner would be blindfolded and taken outside to the courtyard where the blindfold was removed and they were forced to look at the sun, blinding them. That ‘hole’ was also infamous for the occasional screams of terror coming from it.
Grahamstown is known as the City of Saints, but it was not always so blessed. Under martial law for much of its early existence, its main social occasion appears to have been public beatings and hangings.
Those condemned to death were shackled and led from the dank Old Gaol to the military parade ground where the punishment was administered. The last person to be publicly hanged there was Henry Nicholls, who can sometimes be seen doing the dead man’s walk along the route to where the gallows once stood.
The Kimberley Public Library, now the Africana Museum, was founded in 1882 and housed opposite the Kimberley Club in a magnificent building with wrought-iron gallery, spiral staircase and sparkling chandeliers. Dyer, the city’s first qualified librarian, arrived in 1900 from England, where at one time he had worked in Buckingham Palace.
But he was also a fraudster, misappropriating funds until auditors caught up with him in 1908. Rather than go to prison, he took cyanide, and his ghost can still be seen dressed in Victorian clothing rearranging books and files in the stacks section.
The Port Elizabeth Public Library on Market Square is one of the most beautiful buildings in South Africa. Erected in 1902, it is a fine example of Art Nouveau Artistic Baronial with dramatic Elizabethan touches.
Its resident ghost is of caretaker Robert Thomas who devoted the last 31-years of his life to the library. Since his death in 1943, staff say doors open and bang shut of their own accord; books are removed from shelves and stacked on the floor; and books fall for no reason.
The Nottingham Road Hotel, the oldest country establishment in KwaZulu-Natal, is possessed by an exuberant spirit.
Thought to be that of a barmaid, she turns tricks in one of the rooms, opens taps, moves ornamental copper pots in the pub, rings the antique decommissioned service bell and even deflates the wheels of problem guests.
At Matjiesfontein, a beautiful little Victorian village in the Karoo, the past and the present are inseparably intertwined. So do not be surprised to find that some of the visitors are staying forever.
Among these are the spirits of founder Jimmy Logan and Lucy, who has never checked out of her hotel room. Wearing only a negligee, she’s often spotted in the corridor.
At the Barandas turnoff 19 kilometres before Uniondale, you’ll find one of the world’s most famous ghosts, the Uniondale hitchhiker.
On a cold, rainy Good Friday night in 1968, Maria Charlotte Roux and her Air Force officer fiancée crashed in their Volkswagen Beetle just outside the town in the Kamanassie Mountains. He was badly hurt, she died instantly. It is said that since then the apparition of a hitchhiker matching the description of Roux appears at the spot every Easter. People traveling the area on rainy nights have picked up a woman hitchhiker, who then simply disappears into the darkness again. Since 1976 many sightings have been reported.
It is also reported that she laughs shrilly, there is a chill in the car and then she disappears. The interesting thing about Maria is that she feels like flesh and blood, and her reflection has also been spotted in rear view mirrors.
So remember, you don’t really need a dark and stormy night to happen upon things that go bump in the night, just ask a local, there’s sure to be a creepy tale in every corner of the country!