When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood

Private Property South Africa
Taryn Isaac

Halloween is the perfect time to take a closer look at some of South Africa’s most notorious ghosts, and where you’re likely to find them.

Everyone loves a good ghost story and as Halloween approaches we thought we'd take a tour of the ghostliest spots in and around Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg.

From wrecked buildings to haunted hotels, our beautiful country is home to a variety of paranormal and unexplained places, where some of South Africa’s most notorious ghosts are believed to lurk.

Check out these spine-chilling areas which have earned a reputation for their otherworldly qualities:

The City of Cape Town:

1. The Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest and largest of South Africa’s colonial buildings and has many a tale to tell. It was originally used as a refill station for ships passing through the Cape.

The castle, which is now a museum and heritage site, is known for its infamous ghost encounters.

Many workers and visitors of the castle have reported several unusual experiences over the years. These include the hearing of phantom voices and unnerving footsteps in the dungeon and narrow corridors of the building.

The old bell tower overlooking the castle, also holds a spooky tale of it own. The tower was sealed off centuries ago after a soldier hung himself with the tower’s bell-rope in the 1700’s. Since then, many witnesses have heard the bells of the tower ringing in the distance on numerous occasions.

Lady Anne Barnard is another ghostly resident of the castle. Lady Anne who lived at the Castle as the colony's First Lady in the late eighteenth century and often entertained important dignitaries, is believed to still haunt the castle’s ballroom, especially during ballroom extravaganzas.

The Lady in Grey, who once lived in the building, is an additional spirit which lurks throughout the Castle of Good Hope. On many occasions, The Lady in Grey was seen floating through the castle in a flood of tears and hysterics.

A ghostly black hound has also been spotted at the castle. This dog is known for pouncing on several visitors, before vanishing from sight.

Other activity in the castle includes the lights going on and off in the dungeon area as well as several voices heard arguing in the old guard room.

2. Green Point Lighthouse

The red and white lighthouse, which exists as far back as 1824, is situated in Green Point and is considered one of the most recognized landmarks in Cape Town. And like most things with a lengthy history, it comes with a bit of eerie intrigue.

The candy-striped beacon is not only a favourite spot for locals who enjoy a run or cycle on the promenade, but it is also known to be a spot full of mystery for locals in the area.

The lighthouse is believed to be haunted by a one-legged lighthouse-keeper, known as “Daddy” West.

For many years, rumours have long swirled that the tower is accompanied by the spirit of a one-legged man by the name of W.S, who is believed to have once worked at the lighthouse.

And while none of the workers there have ever personally experienced anything odd during daytime, this spooky tale has left many of those, who flock to the promenade at night, on edge.

Green Point Lighthouse haunted buildingGreen Point Lighthouse

3. Groote Schuur Hospital

Groote Schuur Hospital is believed to be another building in the city that is haunted by several spooky ghouls.

As a place that has witnessed many untimely deaths over the years, the hospital is said to have a few trapped and restless souls who spend their days wandering the hallways of the historical building.

One of the lurking spirits is believed to be a young nurse who turned a gun on herself many years ago, and continues to roam the corridors of the hospital ever since.

A young man who fell to his death while trying to escape from the upper floor of the Groote Schuur Hospital, is also another notorious ghost of the building who continues to haunt the hospital on a regular basis.

Durban ghosts

1. Higginson Highway

The Higginson Highway, located in Chatsworth, is infamously associated with the legend of Highway Sheila - a restless spirit which has become a household name among Durbanites over the past few decades.

Highway Sheila is believed to be the ghost of a young woman who was raped and killed on the highway and is often seen trying to hitch a lift from passing motorists.

One of the many spooky encounters had with the spirit of Highway Sheila entails a Durban man who stopped to give the woman a lift one night and had offered his jacket, which he forgot to take back after dropping her off.

When the man returned to her home to pick up his jacket the following day, he was told by the woman who answered the door that Sheila had died many years before. Baffled, the man went to her grave and is believed to have found his jacket lying on her tombstone.

2. Nottingham Road Hotel

The Nottingham Road Hotel is an incredibly old building, which is why its ghostly activity comes as no surprise.

One of the hotel's oldest resident’s, Charlotte, is believed to be the ghost of Nottingham Road Hotel – a woman who fell in love with a British army officer, before allegedly killing herself when her feelings were found to be unrequited.

While some romantics say, she killed herself because of her broken heart, others say she was murdered to cover up her inappropriate feelings.

It is believed she fell (or was thrown) over the balcony of her favourite room in the hotel - number ten.

Many residents of the area, as well as hotel guests have experienced several encounters with Charlotte who is often seen gliding around the hotel, seemingly keeping a watchful eye on everything.

Some hotel guests who have stayed in room ten have woken up the next morning to find their clothes neatly folded and on some occasions, have been woken up by the sounds of Charlotte having a lengthy conversation with her unseen friends.

After dark image of Nottingham Road Hotel outsideNottingham Road Hotel

3. Polo Tavern

Sergeant Bosch, the infamous ghost of the Polo Tavern is a hair-raising tale commonly shared among locals in the city.

Sergeant Bosch was a regular patron of the Polo Tavern, and was a popular biker known for his noisy entrances on his Harley-Davidson motor bike.

In 1919, he was tragically killed after crashing his bike into a lamppost, just outside the tavern.

But although he was declared dead on the scene, photographs recently taken of the accident scene depict a hazy, fuzzy figure of a man (who looks a lot like Sergeant Bosch) climbing the steps to the tavern.

Many onlookers, who were pictured in the photo at the time of the incident, swore that no one entered the tavern while the photo was being taken.

Over the year’s patrons and owners have maintained that Bosch still frequents the pub.

Many of the workers at the tavern have found an empty beer bottle and glass on the bar counter many mornings after the bar has been thoroughly cleaned and locked the night before.

The city of Johannesburg:

1. The Supreme Court

Daisy de Melker is one of South Africa’s most famous murderesses, who was accused of murdering her two husbands and her son many years ago.

Infamously known as the Black Widow, Daisy was the first female serial killer to be convicted in South Africa and her spirit is believed to still lurk the corridors of the Supreme High Court.

Daisy was found guilty of murdering her husband and son by sprinkling arsenic on their sandwiches and coffee and was sentenced to death by hanging in 1932.

It is believed that she still haunts her old cell at the women’s prison at Constitutional Hill, including the Supreme Court which was where her sentencing was held.

De Melker is said to also appear at 6 o’clock at her home on Club Street in Turffontein where she peers out of the window waiting for her victims to return home.

2. The Rocky Knoll in Soweto

Many locals in Rocky Knoll have witnessed a ghostly schoolboy with his hands clenched in the black power salute along with the faint sound of bullets firing into the night.

Many believe this to be the ghost of Hector Peterson who was killed in the Soweto Rising on 16 June 1976.

Hector Peterson was one of the Soweto scholars who assembled in the school grounds on 16 June 1976, singing the national anthem before starting a protest march against Afrikaans at the Orlando Stadium.

What followed was brutal police action, resulting in the murder of Hastings Ndlovu and Hector Peterson which is what kicked off the Soweto Uprising – a significant movement in South African history.

Many locals believe that the ghost of young Hector Peterson exists and many have witnessed him standing at the foot of Rocky Knoll on many occasions.

3. Kempton Park Hospital

Kempton Park’s abandoned hospital in Johannesburg has become a popular spot for paranormal enthusiasts in the area.

The haunted facility is quite the mystery as the hospital closed down unexpectedly in the late 1990’s and has not reopened since.

Many visitors of the hospital describe the abrupt closure of the facility as an unsolved puzzle with very little information to be shared on the sudden abandonment of the facility.

Many who have been brave enough to visit the haunted hospital have found jars of kidneys on the floor, blood spattered sheets on hospital beds, open files and x-rays strewn across the tables.

Some have said to have also experienced the faint sounds of babies crying, doors slamming, and on occasion have also witnessed an eerie figure of a strange man roaming the halls.

Many visitors who have captured photos of the facility have often found the photos to be obscured and/or blurred by a strange white sheen.

Kempton Park abandoned HospitalKempton Park Hospital

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