Haunted Cape Town
The Mother City is the oldest city in the country, so you can bet we got plenty of ghost stories. Here are some of our favourite places to spot the restless spirits haunting the city.
I am a fan of horror. The more ghosts, zombies and screaming prom queens the better. Halloween is my favourite time of the year and Cape Town is a breeding ground for tales of the macabre… sure, there might not be too many zombies – not in the traditional sense at least – and screaming prom queens, but ghosts? The Mother City is the oldest city in the country, so you can bet we got plenty of those. Here are some of our favourite places to spot the restless spirits haunting the city.
It’s an intriguing Table Mountain tale… a distant governor of Cape Town made enemies of a citizen who proceeded to offer a fine-looking flute to the governor’s son as a gift. The flute was once used by a leper and so the boy contracted leprosy. He was forced to live in exile in a lonely hut in the forests of Table Mountain and to this day the gloomy sounds of his flute can sometimes be heard on the slopes of Table Mountain.
THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
The Flying Dutchman is a ship that is believed to have been sailing around the famously stormy seas of the Cape when a fight broke out between its drunken captain and the ships crew. The captain killed the crew leader and threw his body into the ocean, only to be cursed by a mysterious shadowy figure that suddenly appeared on board. These days the ship can reportedly be seen appearing and disappearing as thick mist rolls in at Cape Point.
Presiding over the City Bowl, Leeuwenhof Estate dates back to the earliest days of European settlement in the Cape and is now the official residence of the Premier of the Western Cape. Throughout the history of Leeuwenhof there have been tales of lights inexplicably going on after they were switched off and an older woman is said to haunt the ground floor. It is told there is also a ghost of a young woman who died of heartbreak when her family disapproved of her lover.
THE GHOST HOUSE OF RONDEBOSCH
Jac Loopuyt House, also known as The Ghost House of Rondebosch, is a picturesque Edwardian residence nicknamed “The Spook House”. It is rumoured that a strange cult resided there in the 1970’s and there are stories of doors being opened and closed inexplicably and a transparent elderly man wandering around.
An ornate building dating back to the late 1700s, Rust-en-Vreugd, is now an art museum where it is not uncommon to hear visitor accounts of ghost sightings. Some guests hear footsteps, some see a woman drifting between the downstairs rooms and others see a different woman staring down on them from an upstairs window. It is reported that dogs often snarl at the painting of British Governor of the Cape, Lord Charles Somerset.
TOKAI MANOR HOUSE
Jittery witnesses at Tokai Manor House report seeing a re-enactment of a New Year’s Eve spectacle from the early 1900’s when a young nobleman was dared to ride his horse around the living room. Due to a large amount of alcohol consumption and loud noises that spooked his horse he was unable to control the animal and the horse galloped out the door and toppled off the high veranda, killing both the horse and the nobleman.
CASTLE OF GOOD HOPE
As one of Cape Town’s oldest buildings, the Castle of Good Hope has many a tale to tell. Workers and visitors report hearing voices and footsteps in the windowless dungeon and in the narrow corridors of the building. The bell in the Bell Tower, which was walled up centuries ago after a soldier hung himself with the bell-rope, sometimes rings of its own accord. A black dog is also said to haunt the property and has been known to approach visitors and then disappear.
Lady Anne Barnard is another of the Castle’s ghostly residents. In the late eighteenth century, Lady Anne lived at the Castle as the colony’s First Lady and end often entertained important dignitaries. Lady Anne’s ghost is said to have appeared at parties held in honour of important visitors as well as at Dolphin Pool, where she bathed. Another known ghost story is that of Governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt, who was apparently a strict and militant man, once sentencing seven soldiers to die by hanging. One of the soldiers is said to have cursed him. Later that day, Van Noodt was found dead at his desk, having died of a heart attack.
GROOTE SCHUUR HOSPITAL
Since opening its doors in 1938, Groote Schuur hospital has seen many patients, staff and visitors roam about its halls. However, it’s believed that some never really left. Patients and staff have reported sightings of a young nurse who committed suicide, a patient who fell to his death while trying to escape, and the spooky, but friendly, Sister Fatima who has been seen helping nurses on their rounds.
There are many ghost stories to come out of Simon’s Town too. The Simon’s Town Museum is said to be home to a haunted painting of a young lady – photos of this painting cannot be developed. Admiralty House is also well-known for its spirits of deceased naval officers and a woman in a grey dress.
Built in the 17th Century, the manor house at Groot Constantia is one of the oldest buildings in the country, so it is not all that surprising that is comes with a ghost story. Simon van der Stel and his wife were among the earliest settlers in the Cape and Van der Stel was super attached to the land. So much so, it seems he still doesn’t want to let it go. Van der Stel has been seen strolling to the swimming pool on summer mornings to go and have a dip…
One of the most recognised landmarks in Green Point, the red and white lighthouse dates back to 1824. A favourite for camera-toting tourists and the starting point for many a run or cycle along the promenade, it is also believed to be haunted by a one-legged lighthouse-keeper whose voice is said to echo along its walls late at night. That will make you run a little faster!
THE GHOSTLY COUPLE OF KRONENDAL
Over the years the staff at Kitima, the restaurant that now occupies the homestead of Kronendal, between Constantia Neck and Hout Bay, have reported strange sightings both in- and outside the house. Sometime in the 1840s a British soldier sought the hand of Elsa Cloete, who lived there with her family, but was refused by her father and banned from contacting her again. Distraught at the loss of his love, the soldier hanged himself in an oak tree just outside the house. Elsa is said to have died shortly after. These days the two longing lovers can reportedly still be seen in and around the house, with Else’s ghost moving objects around the house and staring out of a window, while the soldier roams around the avenue where he took his own life.
THE DOG AND MASTER OF WATERHOF
At the top end of Hof Street in Tamboerskloof is an old Cape Dutch mansion is home to a bearded old man who wanders about the house at night, while the ghost of a dog hunts for hidden treasure, or so it is said…