With Halloween around the corner, we look at the spookiest places in Mzansi

In the small town of Uniondale in the Eastern Cape, a chilling legend persists about the Uniondale Ghost. Picture: INSTAGRAM

In the small town of Uniondale in the Eastern Cape, a chilling legend persists about the Uniondale Ghost. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Published Oct 20, 2023


Halloween might not be everyone's cup of tea as some individuals do not believe in a spiritual realm or the existence of ghosts as traditionally conceived.

However, ever since I can remember, tales of scary places were told by our grannies, aunts and many around us in. Many of us grew up with in South Africa listening to some of these folk-tales.

There exists a wealth of evidence suggesting that eerie occurrences are not confined to the realm of fiction.

These phenomena may either send shivers down your spine or convince you to contemplate the possibility of a deeper, unexplained dimension to our existence. Below are a few of the haunted places that we’ve heard of:

The Ghost Ship of Cape Point

They say ghosts can't walk on water but here's a tale that challenges that notion. Legend has it that the waters around Cape Point are home to a phantom vessel, the notorious Flying Dutchman.

The legend of the Flying Dutchman can be traced back to the 17th century. It is associated with an actual ship, believed to be the Dutch East India Company vessel “The Flying Dutchman” or “De Vliegende Hollander”, which sailed during that era.

The story's earliest known written record comes from George Barrington, an English sailor and author, in 1795.

The legend tells the story of Captain Hendrik van der Decken, who, according to various versions of the tale, either defied or made a outrageous oath to sail around the Cape of Good Hope during a violent storm.

When the captain defied the storm, they say it ticked off some powerful force resulting in the ship and its crew being cursed to roam the seas for all eternity, never able to make port.

This spectral ship is said to materialize as a ghostly apparition, shrouded in an eerie mist, silently gliding through the tumultuous waters. Its appearance, veiled in an aura of foreboding, continues to bewitch and mystify those who venture near the treacherous Cape Point.

Though sceptics dismiss these tales as mere superstition, many seafarers have reported encountering the spectral ship while navigating the treacherous waters of Cape Point.

Some say that seeing the Flying Dutchman is an omen of impending disaster.

Castle of Good Hope – Lady Anne Barnard's Ghost

The Castle of Good Hope, located in Cape Town, is South Africa's oldest colonial building and is known for its dark history.

The castle is home to several spirits but one of the most famous is the ghost of Lady Anne Barnard. Lady Anne was a British colonial figure who spent time in Cape Town in the late 18th century.

It is said that Lady Anne's ghost haunts the castle and she is often seen in the halls and courtyard. Witnesses describe her as a well-dressed lady in period clothing, who seems to be searching for something.

Some believe she is looking for her lost love, while others speculate that she may be seeking justice for past wrongs.

Castle of Good Hope, Picture: oldpueblo/INSTAGRAM

Uniondale – The Vanished Hitch-hiker

If you grew up in SA, you’ll know that this has been a tale told by many of our forefathers and to this day the story still brings shivers down ones spine.

In the small town of Uniondale in the Eastern Cape, a chilling legend persists about the Uniondale Ghost.

As the story goes, in 1968, a young woman named Maria Charlotte Roux went missing while hitch-hiking along the N9 highway. Her lifeless body was later found and her spirit is said to linger at the spot where her life came to a tragic end.

Motorists driving along the N9 highway have reported picking up a female hitch-hiker, who then mysteriously vanishes from their cars, leaving behind a cold chill.

It is said that she's trying to find her way home or warn travellers about the dangers of hitch-hiking. Locals have commemorated her with a monument and maintain that she's a guardian angel, protecting those on the road.

The Ghost of Uniondale. Picture: TJ's Wild African Adventures/INSTAGRAM

The Rocky Knoll – Soweto

The Rocky Knoll, located in Soweto, South Africa, is a place steeped in historical significance and haunted by a poignant and tragic tale.

The legend of the Rocky Knoll revolves around the apparition of a ghostly schoolboy, forever captured in a powerful stance.

Witnesses have reported seeing a young boy with his hands clenched in the Black Power salute, a symbol of resistance against apartheid and racial injustice. His presence is often accompanied by the eerie and faint sounds of bullets firing into the night.

Picture: an_appetitefortravel/INSTAGRAM

This ghostly figure is believed to be the spirit of Hector Pieterson, a schoolboy who met a tragic end during the Soweto Uprising on June 16, 1976.

On that fateful day, thousands of black students took to the streets to protest the compulsory use of Afrikaans in schools, a symbol of the oppressive apartheid regime.

Hector Pieterson was one of the first casualties when police opened fire on the peaceful demonstrators. His lifeless body, captured in a powerful photograph, became an iconic image of the struggle against apartheid.

Ponte Tower – Hillbrow

Ponte Tower, Johannesburg. Picture: David Hedding/INSTAGRAM

Ponte Tower, situated in the vibrant neighbourhood of Hillbrow in Joburg, is a building with a storied and often eerie past. This cylindrical skyscraper is not only an architectural icon but also a place that has seen its fair share of history, both fascinating and disturbing.

The tower used to be considered one of the most luxurious residential addresses in the city. However, over the years, it experienced a decline, and during the 1990s, it gained a unsettling reputation due to crime and urban decay in the area.

The building was largely abandoned, and it became synonymous with Joburg's notorious gangs.

Stories of criminal activity, squatters, and even tales of people committing suicide were widespread. During this time, the building’s core, a hollow vertical space, was filled with discarded belongings, creating an otherworldly and chaotic atmosphere.

However, in more recent years, Ponte Tower has undergone a significant transformation and gentrification process. It is now being revitalized, and the apartments are once again being occupied.

The building is gradually shedding its eerie reputation, making way for a new chapter in history.

Smuts House - Pretoria

Smuts House. Picture: Die FAK/INSTAGRAM

Smuts House, located in the Irene suburb of Pretoria, is not only a historic site but also a place believed to be haunted.

The house, originally known as "Doornkloof", was once the residence of General Jan Christiaan Smuts, a prominent South African statesman and military leader during the early 20th century.

Visitors and staff have reported hearing footsteps, doors creaking, and feeling a chilling presence. Some believe it could be the spirit of General Smuts himself.

The story of the haunting revolves around the ghost of General Smuts, who is said to continue to watch over his former residence long after his passing. He is described as a distinguished, older gentleman in formal attire.

Witnesses often catch glimpses of him in various rooms, usually in the library or the study.

The Nottingham Road Hotel - KZN

The Nottingham Road Hotel. Picture: INSTAGRAM

The Nottingham Road Hotel, located in Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, also has a reputation for being haunted. This hotel, dating back to the late 1800s, boasts a rich history and the stories of its ghostly inhabitants have captured the imagination of many across the world

One of the most famous legends associated with the hotel is that of Charlotte's tragic love story and her untimely passing have bound her spirit to the hotel.

Her presence is said to be felt and seen in room 10 at Nottingham Hotel, marked by subtle and non-malicious actions like rearranging flowers, suggests a gentle and benevolent spirit.

Some may even find their clothes neatly folded the next morning, how insane is that?