Spooky singing children on the R33? It’s just a story

2014-11-27 00:00

FEAR not.

If your car breaks down along the R33 approaching Pietermaritzburg in the dead of night, you really don’t have to worry about spectres of dead children standing in the woods on the side of the road wailing creepy nursery rhymes at you.

A Volkswagen car parts radio advert currently on air sets this scene, but ­although Pietermaritzburg is an old city with many stories of ghostly ­appearances, the one about the spine-chillingly scary children is made up.

Ogilvy advertising agency copy writer Dean Paradise said they were commissioned by Volkswagen to create the spooky radio ads.

“There are countless ghost stories that have occurred throughout Pietermaritzburg. We used a combination of these stories to write ‘The Singing Children of the R33’,” said Paradise.

Volkswagen product manager supervisor Dominic Gennrich said the idea of using ghost stories during the festive season allowed them to stand out from all the clutter during this busy period.

“Through these ads South Africans will be reminded of the most famous SA horror stories. It reminds people to use Volkswagen Genuine Parts.”

The ghostly tale is comprised by Paradise of the following supernatural stories from around Pietermaritzburg:

•The St John’s DSG has an urban legend that has been circulating for years about a ghostly matron named Mother Margaret. According to GoTravel24.com, the matron wanders the dormitories, and keeps an eye on the girls.

• According to Paradise, another urban legend is about a place once called Duiwel’s Kantoor, where the screams of a child crying for help have been heard in a pub. “A mother and child burnt to death there in the 1940s. Children can also be heard laughing outside.”

• Paradise added: “On the way to Pietermaritzburg, a girl mysteriously disappeared in 1961. In 1967, the remains of a young girl were found underneath a newly built swimming pool. The discovery was followed by a series of strange events, like lights flickering, doors opening and closing, and the sound of a girl singing. Her appearances are ­random and no one can tell when she will strike again,” said Paradise.

The whereabouts of the swimming pool was not specified.

• chelsea.pieterse@witness.co.za

A SEMI-FINALIST in the Witness True Stories of KZN competition, local ­Pietermaritzburg woman Yasmin Essop wrote about a family member who came into contact with a ghost.

Essop said her uncle was driving ­between Cedara and Merrivale over 50 years ago when he saw a beautiful ­woman in a white sari in the midst of a raging storm.

Essop’s uncle, named Uncle Roop, stopped on the side of the road to offer her a lift and she silently accepted.

As they drove toward Howick West, Essop said her uncle asked where the woman would like to be dropped off.

“In less than a second, a shocking, ­deliberate and thunderous slap greeted his right cheek and before his very eyes, the woman disappeared.”

Essop said the ghost had been named Highway Sheila.

“This episode remains startlingly fresh in my mind 50 years on. It has been recently re-ignited by news of a documentary being produced on Highway Sheila.”

According to Essop, Highway Sheila’s story was a sad tale of a woman looking for her lover who died in an accident on the highway.

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