The infamous Highway Sheila has hitched a lift to Verulam under disguise. Myth or fact? I don't know, but according to several locals "the woman in black" has been seen doing her rounds in the area on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast over the past few days.

A still terrified Jane Rajpaul, 42, of Buffelsdraai Road, Redcliffe, said she encountered Sheila (hereinafter referred to as Redcliffe Sheila for purposes of identification) on two consecutive nights and has since been having sleepless nights.

Said housewife Rajpaul: "I was returning home just before midnight last Tuesday after fetching my son from work from Gateway (shopping centre) when I spotted a grey car parked outside a shop at the entrance of Redcliffe.

The back doors were open and I saw a woman sitting outside the car, in front of the boot."

The woman was dressed in a black top and from her waist down there was just a "white glare".

"Her hair was long and wild and it covered her face. I felt a cold shiver run down my spine and I sped off in fear that she might show her face."

Rajpaul claimed that the following day she saw "Sheila" again in exactly the same position at the same time, while returning home after fetching her son. She was again terrified.

"I now use an alternative route because I fear seeing her again."

She said "Sheila" was the talk of the town and word was that she had come to Verulam after "hitching a lift with a man from Chatsworth".

An adamant Rajpaul said she believed in ghosts and was sure "Sheila" was a reality and not a figment of her imagination.

She said a friend, who had also encountered "Redcliffe Sheila" at night, described her as having "wild eyes and huge teeth".

Another Redcliffe resident, Nirasha Gurwoo, 23, claimed she had also met the "spooky" lady.

Said Gurwoo: "She has untidy, had long hair and appears to be naked from her waist down. I saw her last week at about midnight, at the same spot, next to a grey car, while returning home with my family. She was dressed in black with white from the waist down. I, and others in our car, became terribly scared and drove off. I have been unable to sleep since then," added Gurwoo, who now carries a knife for protection from evil.

Ever since Post reported on the claimed sighting of Highway Sheila in Chatsworth two weeks ago, the newspaper has been inundated with calls from people who claim to have also encountered her.

A letter writer has claimed in this week's issue that the lady concerned was not Highway Sheila.

However, several priests and psychics quoted in Post and other media have described Sheila as an "unsettled spirit" who was either murdered or died in an accident. According to the chairman of the Divine Life Society of South Africa, Pradeep Ramlall, ghosts or spirits do exist.

Said Ramlall: "When one commits suicide or dies an unnatural death, the soul undergoes great misery and suffering on the other plane, more than during its sojourn in the physical body. Also, it is said that the soul had to roam about as a ghost for a long time and when it is reborn again on earth, it will experience more adverse conditions for several births."

He said this was because human birth was regarded as very sacred.

Ramlall urged people who were depressed or who had experienced these ghosts to take refuge in the Divine name, like "Sri Ram".

He added that on the first day of every month, the Divine Life Society offered special prayers for departed souls.

"According to Sri Swami Sivananda, many religions vehemently condemned the practice of ancestor worship which often resulted in souls being in a state of great grief. These souls look to us to help them and we must."

Ramlall said prayers for departed souls included "the offering of consecrated food, Ganga worship for the peace of grieving souls and special illumination in temples."

To help put Sheila's spirit to rest, POST, the Umgeni Road Temple and the Divine Life Society, represented by Swami Sahajananda, will host a prayer meeting at the notorious spot in Havenside Drive, Chatsworth, on Thursday.

Head priest of the temple, Radhakrishna Gurukul, will conduct a hawan prayer at 11am, followed by the recital of the Hanuman Chalisa by members of the Divine Life Society. Chatsworth residents are welcome to attend the prayer meeting.