The Ghosts of Cape Town’s Past

Unwrapping Cape Town with you.
Also engage with our other channels
to find something you don't want to miss.

The Ghosts of Cape Town’s Past

7 spooky stories

The Western Cape has a plethora of these myths and folklore to tell. From haunted houses to ghost ships, ghost riders and even mermaids, here are some of the best known stories from Cape Town; you can go to these sites – if you have the courage.

Kitima Restaurant is a tidy Hout Bay Asian eatery situated on The Kronendal, a 17th century former Dutch homestead … with a history. Part of that history is Elsa Cloete, a Dutch woman who lived in the homestead in the mid-1800s. 

Story has it that the young Elsa and a British soldier were madly in love, but her father wouldn’t allow them to see each other. So the young soldier hung himself from a tree, and the young girl died of a broken heart.

According to reports from Kitima Restaurant staff, Cloete may be dead, but she isn’t gone. The staff have seen pots fly off wall hooks and lights dim without explanation. Guests have also reported sightings of a spectral female figure in one of the manor windows. The young soldier’s spirit also lives on as guests have reported sightings of a man’s outline lurking between the manor’s oak trees.

Out of respect for the doomed lovers, the restaurant sets a table for them with food and wine every night.

Kronendal Estate | 140 Main Road | Hout Bay | +27 (0)21 790 8004 

For centuries, seafarers have reported a spectral ship sailing around the tip of Cape Point on stormy nights. Witnesses say that if you hail the ship, it releases rowboats with phantom men who approach you with letters to deliver to their loved ones.

These accounts are linked to the tale of a vessel called The Flying Dutchman that was caught in a storm in 1641 near Cape Point while journeying to Holland from Indonesia. The captain reportedly refused to turn back, swearing he would round the jagged tip of Africa if it was the last thing he did. It was. The boat was destroyed and all the crew drowned that night.

There have been sightings from Cape Point and Cape Agulhas, but don’t be so keen to see for yourself: witnessing the Flying Dutchman is said to be a bad omen.

Cape Of Good Hope | Cape Point Road | +27 (0)21 780 9526 

Just past Kalk Bay Harbour is a Building called Spring Tide. The name is on the door, which hasn’t been opened for years. Legends about it abound, of buyers upping and leaving the property, tenants moving in and not staying one night. Even when abandoned, opportunistic vagrants wouldn’t sleep there.

One of the standout stories from this house is from the mid-90s, when the house hosted a crèche. One day during nap time, a teacher heard a loud scream followed by the children crying. One child described how a woman came halfway down the stairs, then stopped and uttered one, guttural scream.

The crèche didn’t last long, and stories surfaced about a love triangle that had turned ugly. Some time ago a woman had found her lover murdered by her husband after he had discovered her infidelity. That moment of discovery is believed to be the apparition the children witnessed that day.

Spring Tide is currently being refurbished. At the moment, builders are only doing exterior cosmetic work. Whether they’re going to work inside remains to be seen.

168 Main Road | Kalk Bay

Some say he’s headless, others say he’s completely clad in black, but many Mitchells Plain residents will vouch for the existence of the ghost motorcycle on Spine Road, which cuts its way through Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha right through to Blue Downs.

The part of the road in question is a bridge, bordered by the Mitchells Plain subsections of Portlands, Tafelsig as well as Spine Road High School. Legend has it that on Friday nights, just after midnight, a phantom motorcycle speeds over the bridge. 

Not many have seen him, they say he moves too fast, but on a quiet, windless night, he can be heard speeding by. The strange thing is that the motorcycle never stops accelerating, they say: you hear it work through the gears and then accelerating at a high speed, engine whining. But it’s as if he never gets off the bridge, no matter how fast he goes.

The myth is linked to a true story about a motorcycle rider who, speeding down Spine Road on a Harley Davidson, crashed at the foot of the bridge, and died.

From Aquaman to Ariel, mermaids are portrayed as the good guys. But not all mermaids are honourable. British folklore says they are bad omens, and in eastern Europe they’re said to be undead brides who drowned and tempt men to the same fate. 

In central, west and southern Africa they’re known as Mami Wata (Mother of Water), female humanoid fish who lure men to their deaths.

As a matter of fact, the Karoo dam of Bufeljags is teeming with them, according to local stories.
Locals point to several unmarked graves around the banks of the dam, believed to be men lured to the slaughter by the mermaids.

Locals say that the creatures seduce men with beauty: tapping into their psyche and portraying any beauty features that would lure them. There are no reports on how these men meet their end, because no one has lived to tell of the encounter.

Here’s a stupid question: who would walk through a cemetery in the middle of the night? Well, apparently two friends thought it would be a good idea to walk through a graveyard in Claremont – the night before Halloween in 2014. One of them started snapping photos on a camera and, when checking the screen, noticed that the images were covered in orbs. Spook-story enthusiasts will tell you that orbs, or backscatter, represent some sort of supernatural presence. Science says it’s dust and insects that the camera can’t focus on.

But we think the supernatural angle won the argument on this night. On closer inspection the two friends noticed a blurry figure lurking in one of the pictures. It was a man with a white beard and red clothing.

Flabbergasted, they researched and discovered that Sir John Molteno, the first Prime Minister of the Cape Colony, is buried in this cemetery. Sir John was renowned for his long white beard and had joined a Boer commando to fight in the Cape Frontier War. Historical portraits of that war show that Boer soldiers fought in red attire.

Saint Saviours Anglican Church |  Bowwood Road & Main Road | Claremont

Ever notice how clouds often cover the top of Table Mountain like a blanket? Capetonians fondly call it the tablecloth. But there is a famous, 120-year-old story attached to this phenomenon.

According to a poem by 18th century poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti called Jan Van Hunks, the first ever tablecloth was caused by the smoking pipe of the prolific Dutch pirate the poem is named after.
As the story goes, Van Hunks lived at the foot of the mountain and wasn’t allowed to smoke in the house, so he would smoke outside on the mountain side.

One day, Van Hunks met another smoker and the two dueled to see who could smoke the most – Van Hunks claimed no-one could outdo him. The second smoker turned out the be the devil.

Van Hunks won the duel but not before the two covered the entire mountain top with their pipe smoke. Whenever Table Mountain is covered with the “tablecloth”, some Capetonians still tell their children that Van Hunks is dueling with the devil again. There’s also a long-standing belief that this duel is the reason Devils Peak has its name.

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway | Tafelberg Road |+27 (0)21 424 8181

Images by: Haunted History, Harley Davidson Tygervally,, Face2Face South Africa
Video by: Unsolved Mysteries & Paranormal Activities


Discover more haunting tales during this ghost walk in Simon's Town. Read more about Simon's Town Ghost Walks.

Learn how to change your life by changing your story at this Transactional Analysis workshop.

Speaking of old buildings filled with history and possible hauntings, take a peek at our overview of museums in Cape Town.


These are only a few of the happenings in Cape Town and surrounds for the month of May, so be sure to check out our events section for an up-to-date overview of happenings in Cape Town. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, connect with us on LinkedIn, check out our photos on Instagram and follow our Pinterest boards for updates on what’s happening in and around the Mother City!

Cape Town Events Calendar
November 2019
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

aroundaboutnew3Season Specials And More With ...

From R200 vouchers and free upgrades, drive away with more value adds

William_Kentridge_2A Monumental Exhibition At The Norval ...

The iconic South African artist’s largest exhibition in Africa in over a decade

the_glass_menagerieCatch Legendary Playwright Tennessee ...

See a professional staging of a play not shown in Cape Town for three decades

Wavescape Surf Film Festival CliftonGather Your Beaches For Art, Movies and ...

Wavescape 2019: a month of beach cleanups, fundraisers and movie nights

Marianne Wine EstateStay at Marianne Wine Estate for 20% ...

There are plenty of accommodation options at this winery that sits between Stellenbosch ...

Land_RewovenSee This Fascinating Interpretation of ...

Artist MJ Lourens pairs his modern landscapes with Pierneef’s, plus there’s cheese ...

rotterdamUltimate Bachelorette Party: The Girls ...

Three days of gin pairings, massages and pool (or fireside bar) parties on a private ...

goudini8Get Married At Goudini Spa And Stay in ...

It’s a 6-sleeper with panoramic views of the Breedkloof valley.

Kinky BootsSmash-Hit Kinky Boots Extended To 2020 ...

With music by Cyndi Lauper, several Tonys and a Laurence Olivier Award

kiff_kombis_wine_beer_2019Buckle Up For A Beer Safari

Sample the best that Cape Town’s booming craft beer industry has to offer (and let ...

onomo_tacoTacos and Sangria at a Friday Fiesta ...

Tuck in while you soak in the atmosphere of the city centre

The_Graduate_Masque_Theatre2A Dustin Hoffman Classic Brought To ...

When 21-year-old Benjamin starts an affair with Mrs Robinson, he never expects to fall ...

ghost_walksWalk With Ghosts In A Haunted Village ...

Discover the mysterious Lavender Lady, an unsinkable coffin, butchering barbers, exhumed ...

OX Seals 04Smile: You Get 10% Off Seal Snorkelling ...

Up close with wild Cape fur seals in small, intimate excursions that are super special, ...

devonvalenew2Share A Double Brandy Special At ...

Enjoy a true South African sundowner at this picturesque venue just outside of ...

moyo_eden15Draughts for R25, R39 Cocktails Every ...

You, a couple friends, sitting at the Corona surfboard tables with your feet in the ...

La Paris_Bistro3Farm-Fresh Fare and Live Music Fridays ...

What an awesome vibe: Top Franschhoek chefs’ lunch favourite is now open till late (one ...

Glowing Rooms 3Get a Great Saving on 3D Mini-Golf with ...

Pay a special rate for entrance into SA’s first 3D space-themed glow-in-the-dark ...

Om Revolution vinyasa poseHave an Outdoor Yoga Experience with ...

Embrace your inner yogi outdoors

asamisOverload On Asami’s Sushi And Noodles

Get sushi and noodle specials three days a week

galileo_meyThe Galileo Open Air Cinema Friday ...

Get your dose of classics, dramas, action movies and more at these outdoor summertime ...

hq_dino_moranKick Off Fridays With Afro-Latin Vibes ...

World-renowned DJ Dino Moran takes over city’s most vibey steak joint

Coco Safar Dinner NEW 2Indulge In Dinner and Dessert At Coco ...

And now they have added couture alcoholic cocktails to the menu at this all-day cafe

Masala dosaCook Traditional Indian Food on Long ...

Learn a few tips and tricks to make authentic Indian dishes

tjing_momjii_3Next-Level Dining At Tjing Tjing Momiji

Take your taste buds on a tour of Japan

Vergenoegd_duckrun1Cheer On The Ducks At Vergenoegd Löw

Bring the kids along to experience the Duck Parade

pepperclubPepper Club Hotel Movie and Dinner

Movies and Dinner – the perfect couple…

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips