Calling all thrill-seekers! If you’re after an out-of-the-ordinary activity, Johannesburg’s Mystery Ghost Bus tour is for you. Expect an evening filled with spooky tales and spine-chilling demonstrations, rounded off with a midnight visit to a cemetery.
The evening kicks off at the historic, and notoriously haunted, Sunnyside Park Hotel in Parktown, where guests are given a chilling introduction by illusionist and parapsychologist Mark Rose-Christie, who also happens to be the owner of Mystery Ghost Bus. From there, the bus tour continues to every imaginable eerie spot in the city, so brace yourself for an unforgettable and fright-filled evening.
A highlight of the tour is definitely the Old Transvaal Children’s Memorial Hospital, as serial killer Daisy De Melker’s spirit is rumoured to haunt Ward 7, where she was employed as a nurse. De Melker was hanged in 1932 for poisoning two of her husbands and her son and is one of the most notorious South African female killers. If that’s not enough to give you goosebumps, the bus also stops at her home in Turffontein. Keep your eyes peeled, as she’s said to often peer through the windows at night.
The tour then continues to Constitution Hill, home of the former Women’s Prison and Old Fort. Both buildings have a long history of abuse, disease, and multiple atrocities toward prisoners. Today, the complex is a living museum, but the eerie atmosphere persists, and stories of its tragic history as well as modern hauntings grip visitors.
From there, you’ll travel to the Kensington Sanatorium, built in 1897, the Poltergeist House of Roberts Avenue, and Jeppe Boys High School, where a headless women is often seen in Payne Hall holding her head in her hands. Legend has it that she committed suicide after the death of her husband during World War I.
Guests step off the bus at the towering Kensington Castle to enjoy a dramatic tale told by a ghost and heard over a radio. The Castle, built in 1911, is one of Johannesburg’s most iconic buildings, and has been abandoned multiple times for unknown reasons, adding to the mystery and speculation surrounding it.
The final stop is the Braamfontein cemetery, which was established in 1888 and is the final resting place of many famous and infamous South Africans, including Enoch Sontonga, the composer of the country’s national anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. The four members of the scandalous Foster Gang are also buried here. A long manhunt by South African police followed the gang’s many disgraceful acts of robbery and murder, and they committed mass suicide in 1914 after police bombarded their hideaway, and their bodies now rest in the historic cemetery.
The whole evening is completed just after midnight with a dramatic finale that is sure to send chills down your spine.
Public tours cost R389 (US$33) per person and private tours can be booked for a minimum of 30 people. Remember cash for food as well as comfortable walking shoes and, of course, a camera – you never know what you might get a snap of.