The ghosts of South Africa are a colourful, dramatic and varied lot. Made up of murderers, victims, battlefield spirits and road accident fatalities, a South African ghost story is always worth telling.
So when you ask the folk at the Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert about their ghosts, they'll tell you about flying vases, characters moving about in old paintings and the shenanigans of a late-night poltergeist in the corridors. Ghosts, you see, are good for business.
Many years ago, a man murdered his wife in a riverbed near Beaufort West. Since then, people have seen a fast-moving light running up and down the river. They say it's the angry spirit of the dead woman. One driver who drove towards it apparently ended up in a lunatic asylum.
The most famous country spook is the Uniondale hitchhiker. On a stormy night in 1968, an Air Force officer and his fiancée crashed in their Volkswagen Beetle just outside the town in the Kamanassie Mountains. He was badly hurt, she died instantly. Since then, people travelling the area on rainy nights have picked up a woman hitchhiker – who then simply disappears into the darkness again.
The Mystery Ghost Bus Tour has routes in all the major cities of South Africa. Many of their guides are so good at telling the stories, which come complete with dramatic recreation, a stiff drink in the evening and a cemetery visit, that you can hear the chains dragging in the background – waking up all the ghosts of South Africa in the process.
Then there are the offshore Ghosts, in the form of the captain and crew of The Flying Dutchman, doomed to round the Cape of Good Hope for eternity. Let the haunting begin...