Cape Town - Ghosts

The Ghosts
that haunt Cape Town

Is it a ghost

There I was pointing my camera at the dark when it went off.
I found this photograph when I downloaded it. Is it a ghost?

Way back in 1652 when the young Jan van Riebeeck arrived on his ships to set up a a replenishment station at the Cape there were no ghosts in Cape Town. Well! non that were recorded. Today however there are a few of them living in a couple of haunted places in and around Cape Town. When van Riebeeck arrived the first thing he did was build a fort and after he left it was rebuilt and still stands today.

We Capetonians know it as the Castle although its official name is the Castle of the Cape of Good Hope. It is built in the shape of a star with five pointed bastions.

In the castle are two known ghosts that appear from time to time. Lets first ask Why should the Castle be haunted? The answer is simple, during the years of the Dutch and British occupations of the Cape many people were held in the Castle and were tortured and even put to death. There is one cell which gets no light from outside called Die Donker Gat, The Dark Hole . It is in this cell that people were tortured and sometimes died. Prisoners held in this totally dark cell were left their for days and eventually were brought out blindfolded. Once out in the sunlight the blindfold was removed and the prisoner was forced to look directly at the sun causing them to go blind.

The ghost however apparently does not stem from these people but from someone who every now and again is disturbed when a disturbance occurs inside the castle walls.

Castle bastion

The bastion on which the ghost was seen. In the background the bell tower where the bell is rung by a ghost from time to time

The ghost was first seen on the ramparts in 1915 and is apparently about two metres tall. It was seen again in 1947, when it was observed to leap over the side of the castle walls. The ghost was seen over a period of two weeks as it walked between two of the bastions called Leerdam and Oranje.

Also found in the Castle is a ghost which sometimes rings the bell in the Castle. Experts believe that the two ghosts might be the same spirit. Apparently a soldier living in the Castle hanged himself with the bell roap a couple of hundred years ago. Not only is there this two metre ghost but also a large black hound which from time to time attacks visitors to the Castle and disappears in the midst of its attack. There are also a number of other ghosts frequenting the Castle.

The ghost is said to be that of the governor Pieter Gysbert van Noodt who overruled a sentence of seven soldiers and condemned them to death for desertion. One of them laid a curse upon him before he was executed and the governor died the same day sitting in a chair in his office.

Another very well known ghost haunts the sea routes around the Cape. It's known as the Flying Dutchman and is a sailing ship that appears out of the mist and then suddenly disappears again. The legend has it that the Dutch sea captain was making his way around the Cape into the teeth of a terrible gale that was lashing the Cape at the time. His passengers and crew begged him to turn back but he refused and continued to drink and sing obscene songs. Even challenging the wrath of God by swearing a blasphemous oath. Fearing for their safety the crew and passengers rebelled and in the fight that followed the captain killed and threw the body of the leader of the mutineers overboard. As his body hit the sea a shadowy figure appeared on board and told the Captain he was a very stubborn man.

The Captain threatened the shadowy figure with his gun and ordered him off the ship. When he was ignored the captain took a shot at the figure and his gun blew up in his hand. The shadowy figure then cursed the captain and told him that as a result of his actions he was condemned to sail the seas for eternity, never reaching port or having a moment's peace. The captain was also condemned to drink gall for the rest of eternity.

Since then the Flying Dutchman has been seen plying the sea routes leading ships astray and onto hidden reefs. Of course there are other ghosts in Cape Town.

One of them is the ghost of Lady Anne Barnard who also lived in the Castle. She was the Colony's first lady and turned the large hall of the Kat residence into a ball room. It's in this room that she sometimes appears to guests of the castle.

In Simonstown there is a haunted painting. It's a painting of a cell where people are being tortured. Photographs taken of this painting for some or other reason can not be developed.

Back in the 1960's I lived in the Castle for a number of months and walked some of the bastions at night to get to my dormitory after being out on pass. I never saw anything, but let me tell you had that dog jumped me or the ghost appeared to me I might have jumped off the bastions myself. You ghost hunters out there, come to Cape Town and see them for yourselves.

That's if you are brave enough!

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Cape Town - Ghosts