By Aldo Pekeur
In what can best be described as the Western Cape's own Loch Ness monster, the legendary "mermaid" known as the Kaaiman has reportedly been spotted in the Buffelsjags River at Suurbraak, a village close to Swellendam.
While mythcial creatures like mermaids are usually the stuff of fairytales, generations of Suurbraak residents swear that the creature exists.
The latest "sighting", about 11 days ago, certainly now has some sceptical Suurbraak residents believing the tales of the Kaaiman told to them by their elders.
Suurbraak resident Daniel Cupido said he and a group of friends were relaxing after enjoying a potjiekos braai at the camping site next to the river when, at about 11.30pm on January 5, he heard something that sounded like someone "bashing on a wall".
Suspecting vandals, Cupido said he walked toward the sound coming from the nearby low water bridge.
At the bridge he said he saw a figure, "like that of a white woman with long black hair thrashing about in the water".
Thinking to save her, he waded toward her, but said he stopped in his tracks when he noticed a reddish shine in her eyes.
He said the sight sent shivers down his spine.
He called for his child Deidrian, 13, and his nephew Werner Plaatjies, 11, to help him.
Cupido claimed the creature was "hypnotic".
He then called to some of his friends to come and take a look as well.
His friend Martin Olckers said he saw what was "definitely" a female figure swimming, first on one side of the low water bridge, then on the other, and then standing on the bridge before diving back into the black water.
Olckers said all the while the figure was making "the strangest sound", like a woman crying.
Olckers's mother, Dina, who was also there, said the figure sounded so sorrowful that "my heart could take it no more".
Her husband, Martinus Olckers, said they identified the figure as the legendary Kaaiman, a creature their parents had warned them about, but they never believed existed.
The Kaaiman was described as a half-human, half-fish creature that lived in deep pools in the river. It is white in colour and has long black hair and red eyes. Dina Olkers said the creature had an eerie silver-white glow.
The last sighting of the Kaaiman was about 15 years ago. Previously it was last spotted more than 20 years earlier.
Some people hold the Kaaiman responsible for drownings in the river, believing it traps you with objects your heart desires.
Suurbraak tourism officer Maggy Jantjies said the elders had warned them about the Kaaiman and could tell stories dating back two or three generations about spotting the creature.
When asked if she believed the story, she said that she knew the people who saw the Kaaiman well and that they did not misuse alcohol, so they could not be talking "drunken nonsense".
"It's something we have to take seriously," said Jantjies. - West Cape News