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Cape Town myths, legends and mysteries
The next time you’re in Cape Town with your family follow up on the following scary myths, heartwarming legends or ghost stories – it makes for some good, clean fun and fascination.
The devil’s cloud

To some the cloud that spills on the top of Table Mountain in summer when the South-Easter blows is nothing but geography with a bit of weather tossed on top. But there’s a fascinating story behind it. It all started with a retired Dutch pirate Jan van Hunks. He lived on the slopes of Devil’s Peak with his sharp-tongued wife. To get out of her way he spent his days on the mountain smoking his pipe. Then one day a stranger showed up and challenged Van Hunks to a smoking contest. It went on for days until Van Hunks finally smoked out the challenging stranger. To his peril, the stranger turned out to be the devil and struck Van Hunks with thunder, leaving a scorched dry patch where our hero sat. Legend has it the tobacco smoke from the contest turned into the ‘table-cloth’ over Table Mountain; whenever it covers it is said Van Hunks and the devil are smoking it up again.

Able Seaman Just Nuisance

The Great Dane known as Able Seaman Just Nuisance started life in Rondebosch back in 1937 before moving to Simon’s Town with his owner, Benjamin Chaney. Known as Mr Chaney’s dog, the Dane grew fond of the HMS Neptune, which was home to many of ‘his’ sailors. That’s how he got the name Nuisance, because he was a nuisance on the ship.

He then began taking the train from Simon’s Town to Cape Town, with or without the sailors, sometimes guiding the drunk ones back to the naval base. This outraged the station staff and Mr Chaney was ordered to control his dog or put him down. As Nuisance had become a celebrity there was a large outcry from the public who sent many letters to Commander in Chief of the Navy.

The solution was to make him a member of the navy. He became an ‘Ordinary Seaman,’ entitled to all the benefits, including free pass on the railways. On the day he had to be inducted into the Royal Navy his trade on the application form was filled in as ‘Bonecrusher’ and his religion as ‘Scrounger.’ When it came to ‘Christian name’, someone said, ‘give the name as Just Nuisance.’ The Great Dane then became, Ordinary Seaman Just Nuisance. Heroic dog that he was, he later became Able Seaman Just Nuisance. Like any other seaman he committed his offences and was punished. His conduct sheet can be seen at Simon’s Town Museum. He later married a dog named Adinda; they had five puppies, two of which were auctioned to raise funds for the war. He was ultimately down, just before he turned eight, in 1944 and buried at the top of Red Hill in Simon’s Town. There’s a bronze statue of him standing to this day at Jubilee Square.

The Ghosts in the Castle

There are quite a few stories about ghosts at the Cape Town Castle. Perhaps the most famous is the Lady in Grey. Apparently she ran around the castle weeping with her hands covering her face. It’s been reported that after a woman’s skeleton was found during some recent excavations, the Lady in Grey disappeared. Another ghost, that of Governor Noodt is also thought to roam around the Castle.  He was known as a harsh disciplinarian. One night four of his soldiers were caught trying to escape. He sentenced them to death, a punishment thought too cruel by everyone, but the Governor was not moved. The night before the executions the four soldiers prayed with their minister. The following morning the Governor didn’t show up for the executions, when the last man was brought out he cursed the Governor and asked him to come out and witness the execution. He did not. Governor Noodt was later found in his room, dead and with a look of horror on his face. Apparently he died of a heart attack and still prowls the Castle at night.


If you are into murder mysteries and that kind of thing, hop on the Mystery Ghost Bus, hosted by magician and illusionist Mark Rose-Christie. The Cape Town leg includes murder mystery and ghost spots at the Good Hope Seminary (this is the scene for poison murderess Daisy de Melcker), District Six Poltergeist and Rondebosch (saints, sinners and students). Try it out; it’s great family fun and a good scare.

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