South Africa’s ‘Mother City’ was described by Sir Francis Drake as ‘the fairest Cape in all the circumference of the earth’. Dominated by Table Mountain, the tip of South Africa has attracted seafarers since the 16th century and is today one of the top tourist destinations.
Since the arrival of the first colonists in 1652 with Jan van Riebeeck, the Cape has had its fair share of miscreants, crimes and wrongful deaths. It is small wonder that many hauntings have been reported over the years. As I am a paranormal romance writer, these unexplained events are of great interest.
The Castle of Good hope was built as a refreshment post for ships making the long voyage from Amsterdam to the East Indies around the Cape. It even had a moat that was kept full of water by the high tide. It is one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town and served as jail, courthouse and trading post over the years and until the 60’s it was a military base. A long and sometimes bloody history has left its imprint on the castle.
The castle has many tales to tell and is said to be haunted by several ghosts. The Lady in Grey had been sighted the most. Nobody really knew who she was; but as she was often seen with her hands covering her face as if she were crying, it was assumed that she had been the victim of a terrible tragedy. After the skeleton of a woman was excavated in the castle and laid to rest, The Lady in Grey has seldom been seen. It is as if she had been released from the clutches of the castle.
The most notorious ghost is that of Governor Van Noodt, governor of the Cape Colony in the 1720’s.
|Good Hope Castle|
He was a harsh man who punished his soldiers ruthlessly for any hint of disobedience. Four soldiers tried to escape his tyranny but were caught and sentenced to a beating and deportation to Batavia in the East Indies. For no apparent reason the Governor changed the sentence to death. One by one the soldiers were hanged. The last of the condemned men loudly cursed the governor and called him before God to answer for his actions. While the hangings took place, Van Noodt waited in his office; he was to be informed once it was all over. The officers found him dead in his chair, a look of absolute horror on his face. His ghost still roams the castle, forever condemned to the dying soldier’s curse.
Workers and visitors to the castle have heard voices and footsteps in the narrow corridors of the building and especially in the windowless dungeon, known as the ‘donker gat’ (dark hole), where many criminals where tortured.
The bell tower had been walled up hundreds of years ago after a soldier hanged himself on the bell rope, yet the bell sometimes rings by itself. A black dog also haunts the castle. It is reported that it leaps at visitors and then, in the second before impact, it vanishes.
I love stories of the ghostly unexplained. They play a large part in my novels. I cannot resist their allure.