Ghostly figures, disembodied footsteps and screams lurk along the streets of Joburg. Here are 16 of Joburg’s most haunted tales and ghoulish secrets. You might want to read this with the lights on!
Serial killers, struggle heroes and tragic deaths haunt Johannesburg’s turbulent and varied history, with some of the ghostly figures remaining to this day. After gold was discovered in 1886 Joburg rose from the dust into the metropolises we know today. But do you know all the legends of how it came to be an eclectic and vibrant city? Terrifying tales whose spirits remain include the tragic tale of freedom fighter and schoolboy Hector Peterson, the ghosts of the infamous Stander Gang and lesser known haunted spots like a Parktown’s Mikes’s Kitchen and a headless women mourning in an ancient school.
The rocky knoll- Soweto
A ghostly schoolboy with his hands clenched in the Black Power salute and the faint sound of bullets firing into the night, have been heard at the foot of the Rocky Knoll. The boy is thought to be the ghost of Hector Peterson who was killed by police bullets on June, 16th 1976.
Daisy de Melker – Supreme Court
Serial killer Daisy de Melker’s spirit still lurks in her old cell at the women’s prison at Constitutional Hill and at the Supreme Court’s, Court 3 where she was sentenced to death in 1932. The Black Widow was the first serial killer to be convicted in South Africa after she poisoned two of her husbands and a son with arsenic and strychnine. De Melker is said to also appear at 6 o’clock at her home on Club Street in Turffontein where she peers out of the window waiting for her victims to return home.
Foxwood House- 5th Street Houghton
The historic house built in 1924 is not only a popular boutique hotel in Houghton but is also home to some historic guests from the spirit world. As one of the first houses in the area it is filled with antique family heirlooms, some of which haven’t been moved since 1936! Guests to the hotel claim to hear mysterious footsteps and to have seen the ghost of a lady with a child and even Paul Kruger.
Ponte Tower- Hillbrow
The Iconic 54-story cylindrical tower has become an eerie spot for a number of suicides. The once luxurious high-rise fell into disrepair and became a base for Joburg’s notorious gangs in the late 1980s before it was abandoned. Now the ghosts have joined its inhabitance with several of them being spotted in the building reliving their last moments.
The View Mansion- Parktown Ridge
In a white Victorian dress Lady Cullinan can still be seen lurking around the stately home with the sound of someone climbing the stairs, despite the staircase being removed many years ago. Sir Thomas and Lady Annie Cullinan bought the View Mansion for £1,250 in 1896, which is now a museum and a business venue. Many other stories are also hidden beneath creaky floor boards and secret passageways in Joburg’s historic homes.
Stander Gang – Houghton
South Africa’s most wanted bank robbers went down fighting when the infamous Stander Gang consisting of Andre Charles Stander (37), Patrick Lee McCall (34) and Allan Heyl (32) were wanted by police in the1980s. The ghost of McCall is said to lurk at the place of his death that came after a tip-off led police to their Sixth Avenue, Houghton safe-house. McCall met his bloody end after refusing to surrender resulting in a gun battle in the streets of the leafy suburb. Police finally threw grenades into the house and stormed in only to find McCall lying naked and dead in the hall.
A clip from the 2003 Movie Stander starring Thomas Jane as Andre Stander and Dexter Fletcher as Lee McCall.
The Aurora House- Central Avenue Houghton
Howling and disembodied footsteps from mysteriously murdered socialite Bubbles Schroeder can be heard walking around the Aurora building. The party girl’s body was found with her mouth stuffed with clay in August 1949, in what was a blue gum plantation near Wanderers Sports Club. The good time girl’s murderer was never found with many different theories surrounding the fateful night helping to further the Schroeder ghosts anguish.
Mikes Kitchen- Parktown
The Goch family home, built in 1904, has seen more than one person meet their untimely end. A ghost of a grief stricken mother thought to be Jane Goch has been seen walking up and down the stairs soothing her child that died. The unfriendly appertshion of James Goch has also occasionally been seen, but he doesn’t take kindly to visitors. The Goch family are not the only souls lurking at the restaurant. The kitchen doors can be seen swinging open and closed as a murdered kitchen staff member walks in and out of the kitchen.
Constitution Hill- Braamfontein
Many souls have passed through the iron gates since it was built in 1882 but some have never left. As a prison and military defense post it saw many political prisoners being incarcerated at the Fort including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Walter Sisulu, and Ruth First. Among the many souls that haven’t found their rest is Daisy De Melker’s ghost who haunts the Women’s Jail. Another is a blonde Afrikaans nurse with maroon epaulets from the old Florence Nightingale Nursing Home who still roams the building at the corner of Constitution Hill.
Braamfontein cemetary – Graf Street Braamfontein
Created in1888 it offers a glimpse of Joburgs past including unsung heroes, resisters, concentration camp survivors and victims of the dynamite explosions. A 24 year old victim of suicide named Chow Kwai engraved a letter of apology on his tombstone apologizing for unknowingly registering under a new law aimed at restricting the movements of Indians and Chinese. After he realized what he had done he set himself alight in 1907.
Kensington Sanatorium-Bezuidenhout Valley
Mother Adéle, a French nun, has been seen at the old Kensington Sanatorium. She is thought to be a passed inhabitant of the building originally built in 1897.
Jeppe Boys High School- Jeppestown
A headless women known as the “Afkop Vrou” has been seen in the schools Payne Hall holding her head. The legend has it that the women committed suicide after the death of her husband during World War I.
Museum Africa- Newton
A ghost known as Mr Chips was a worker at the potato sheds in Newton who was killed by a falling sack of potatoes. He now is said to haunt Museum Africa’s costume collection section and is heard ruffling the clothes and rearranging the shelves. The sheds which were originally built in 1912 were part of the original Indian market. The market relocated to a larger premise in City Deep in 1974.
The Post Office Building- Rissik Street Johannesburg
The burnt remains are not the only things left from the old Post Office building, that was built in 1897 as the tallest building in town. A dark apparition has been seen in the underground tunnels that link the Post Office and Park Station. The building has been abandoned, except for its ghostly visitors, since 1996 with many of its fittings being stripped and stolen leaving behind only its skeleton.
15. Zoo Lake- Randburg
The dismembered body of Mrs Catherine Burch haunts the watery grave were her decomposing head was found by two boys fishing at Zoo Lake in 1964. This was the last puzzle piece needed to help identify the remains already found in Boksburg Lake and Wemmer Pan. The alleged perpetrator was her husband Ronald Burch who electrocuted himself in front of police upon his discovery. The cause of death however still remains “unascertained” leaving an uneasy spirit lurking at the shore of the Lake.
16. Kempton Park Hospital- Kempton Park
If that’s not enough ghostly activity on the outskirts of Joburg are many other ghoulish destinations including the abandoned Kempton Park Hospital that closed its doors the day after Christmas in 1997, without any explanation. The mysterious circumstances around its sudden close have given to the rise of many stories about its ghostly activity. The setting including no electricity, empty rooms, confidential patient files on the floor and broken equipment and ceilings.
A group of ghost hunters posted footage of their experiences whilst walking around the abandoned hospital at night.