Is Cullinan South Africa’s most haunted small town? Ghost tour enthusiasts try to find out
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Johannesburg - This question has been posed ever since Mystery Ghost Tours opened in the town some 21 years ago. Owner of the tour company, Mark Rose-Christie, said the answer is “maybe” as Parys, situated on the banks of the Vaal River, is said to be quite haunted.
People’s fascination with the afterlife is why some 40 000 ghost-chasing South Africans have put their nerves to the test and have gone on ghost tours. And contrary to popular belief, Rose-Christie said ghosts are harmless.
The ghost of Uniondale is perhaps the country’s most famous ghost and is said to be that of a woman who died in a motorcycle accident near Uniondale.
“This woman and her fiance were on their way from Gauteng to the Cape to inform her parents of their engagement when tragedy struck. She now hikes on the road looking for her fiance and for a lift to the hospital. She even speaks Afrikaans and asks the driver to take her to 2 Porter Street,” he said.
Then there is the “Lantern Lady'' who walks at night at the old railway station in Cullinan. Lady Anne Cullinan (wife of Sir Thomas Cullinan, who found the largest diamond in the world) appears as a replay ghost or residual apparition at the old St George’s church. The “Lady with the Lantern” at the railway station wanders the platform as a crisis ghost (ghosts who have unfinished business), awaiting the return of her missing husband from World War II.
Rose-Christie said a replay ghost is where the energy of a deceased person is imprinted on the environment.
The old Cullinan Hospital with some of its abandoned ghostly-looking, white-washed buildings and mortuary have some gruesome tales, one of which is called “Little Boy Lost” about a boy who died in the hospital before his only nearby relative, his grandmother, could visit him. Another tale is about the hospital’s own Florence Nightingale.
“Such ghosts are expected at the diamond mine, often appearing to warn miners of impending danger or an accident that is about to occur. Crisis ghosts also appear at various buildings, one of which is an old sandstone building that once belonged to one of the senior staff members of the mine,” he said.
Rose-Christie said there are also ghosts of an elderly man pushing an equally elderly lady in a wheelchair, who seem to be in a rush. It seems to be some sort of emergency that they must have faced long ago.
“McHardy House has several ghosts, one of which is mining manager William McHardy’s son, who was killed tragically when the family tried to go out for a picnic to celebrate the purchase of their first motor car. The son, James (who is often picked up on ghost hunting cellphone apps), was standing on the car’s running board, but lost his footing and fell under the rear wheel. His grave is one of many spooky graves that can be visited in the old graveyard,” he added.
During its 21st year celebration of operations, South Africa’s Mystery Ghost Tours are running their final festive season tours countrywide for the first time in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Cullinan, Port Elizabeth and Parys.
Rose-Christie said a definite highlight on the Cape Town tour is Tokai Manor with its replay ghost of a horse and rider who tumble down the stairs to their deaths, both breaking their necks. In Johannesburg, Kensington Castle is always a surprise, with the spectre of the original Scottish owner haunting anyone who doesn’t enjoy the castle when occupying it.
In Parys, the Olde Museum has several apparitions, one of which is a magistrate who was killed by lighting on his horse cart.
All tours end at an historic cemetery with a thrilling visual climax.
“Although scientific demonstrations of the paranormal are performed, along with the odd clever scare, guests can also use ghost hunting apps on their cellphones, which we show them how to download,” Rose-Christie said.
Over the years, Mystery Ghost Tours have thrilled many people and companies including Warner Bros Films International, which said: “Simply out of this world.”
Carte Blanche’s Derek Watts said: “I can't believe these dowsing rods actually work.” “Even I felt a tingling sensation down my spine,” said Tracy Melass of London's TNT Travel Magazine.
“Superb, thrillingly different for our group of VIP clients,” said The Capital Hotel, Sandton.
“Most memorable evening ever for our client, Standard Bank,” sid Elite Entertainment Agency.
“Something so, so, so totally different. It's sophisticated entertainment with some clever chills," said Rod Browne of a private function.
If you fancy yourself a ghost chaser, visit www.MysteryGhostProductions.co.za if you dare.