Karoo Ghost Stories

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Most good Karoo ghost stories begin in a misty graveyard.

Everybody loves a ghost story, and they’re especially valued in the Karoo. This is, after all, a wide-angle world of lost spaces, unidentified flying objects, a roadside flash of faces in the night – and total mystery.

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 doings of a late-night poltergeist in the corridors. Ghosts, you see, are good for business.

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The legendary Swartberg Hotel in Prince Albert.

There are hotel ghosts and there are travelling ghosts. The Swartberg Pass has Chrisjan Swanepoel, a furious ghost and an erstwhile passenger in an Oudtshoorn-bound coach who was accidentally shot by a very stupid and boastful jail-wagon driver passing by. Should you find yourself walking the pass by night, you’re sure to feel Chrisjan’s hot breath at your neck.

A long, long time ago, a man murdered his wife in a riverbed near Beaufort West. Ever 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 transport rider who rode towards it ended up in a lunatic asylum.

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Passengers on the Zeederburg Line saw many a Karoo drive-by ghost in the old days.

One night long ago, four travellers heading from Ceres to Beaufort West were suddenly confronted, at 3am, with the sight of a wagon and ‘14 wide-eyed mules’ storming down on them. They managed to dive to safety and shouted at the driver:

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“To Hell,” the anguished man replied, as he passed in a flash. “To Hell!”

The most famous travelling spook, of course, 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.

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Settlement outside Uniondale, where the most famous Karoo ghost story comes from.


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8 Responses to Karoo Ghost Stories

  1. sbobet January 27, 2014 at 3:11 am #

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Julienne April 27, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    If you leave a Karoo ghost story here, and we like it, we’ll send you a windpump poster or a set of Karoo postcards….

  3. curious me May 29, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    Good day.

    I would like to know if there are any strange things that people know about Kerk Street no 9?

    I remember when i was young, my parents rented the house for the Kknk. They where working at the festival.

    and since the start of our stay, something was not quite right.

    There was all manner of chaos that broke out in that house.

    from the door locking you in the bathroom, children running around outside on the covered stoep. (which surrounds the whole house) and even a man that sat next to me when i played the piano in the hallway.

    But all this was just the tip of the iceberg

    I remember one instance when we where sitting in the back room farthest to the left late at night. After we got back from the festival. we where all relaxing a while before bed when the doorknob started turning. And while it was turning my mom opened the door and there was nobody there.

    Do any of you have information about this house?

    I have been wondering ever since what really happened there.

    and it is still a family topic late night around the fire.

    • Chris Marais May 29, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

      Hi Curious Me – Interesting story. Do you live in Oudtshoorn?

  4. Rosie March 18, 2015 at 7:24 am #

    I am not very sensitive towards ghost or unnatural things, but some things do let me wonder. First ever I came across unexplained experiences was in the Karoo. Three years ago we did a stay over in Richmond from our return from a sea holiday.

    I booked us in at an overnight family accommodation at an establishment just as you entered the town coming from the N1 Cape Town direction going up north. I did not catch it at first but there were few travellers spending the night there and you could see from the conditions in the rooms that it was not used frequently.

    Anyway we were settling in for the night. I went through a difficult period in my life at that stage and was crying myself to sleep. My son of 11 years woke up during the night and noticed 3 shadows bending over me. He feared for my life and turned his head to the wall and prayed furiously for protection.

    He turned back again and the shadows disappeared. He was very quiet the next morning in the car and then he starts telling me this strange story. We never mentioned this again.

    In December 2014 we were spending time in Nieu Bethesda. While visit the Owl house I stood infront of the grinder outside where Koos Malgas used to grind the glass. I felt a cool touch on my arm.

    First I thought it was a spiderweb. While looking at the grinder I tried to rub it off, then I looked at my hand and there was nothing… I thought maybe somebody touched me lightly to pass, but nobody was behind me and I realized an energy left of me. It did not feel threatening. I acknowledged it and walk back to the sunlight.

    You were talking about the ghost of Uniondale. Did you know there were 2 ghosts?. Maria Roux ( if you google her you will find an old photo of her on the Net). She had black hair. And then other one a few years later was Anita Erasmus. She worked in a bank in Uniondale.

    She accompanied her boyfriend and her little dog when the car rolled on the same bench. Her head hit the pavement and she died. Anton Goosen sings of a blond ghost. Very little information exists of her.

    • Chris Marais March 19, 2015 at 11:23 am #

      Hi Rosie,
      Thanks so much for posting this very interesting set of experiences. The Owl House elicits an incredible array of visitor-reactions, from ghost encounters to indifference.
      Chris Marais

  5. Rosie March 18, 2015 at 7:42 am #

    http://peperonity.com/sites/ghost.hunters100/14343441 Photo of Maria Roux. Anita Erasmus had long blonde hair and wore a white dress

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