Muizenberg’s main road has some stories to tell, and Tony Rozenmeyer believes a ghost lurking on the staircase of the police museum is one of them.
As a former section officer and police prosecutor in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the 1960s, Mr Rozenmeyer, 77, has had his fair share of strange occurrences but agrees that the man on the museum’s staircase took him by surprise.
The museum was opened in 1990 and comprised the old Muizenberg police station and the adjoining old magistrate’s court with two cells below. The magistrate’s court was originally the Carnegie Library, built with funds from the steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
However, due to structural damage, the museum had to be renovated in 2012 and it reopened in March 2016.
According to Chris Taylor, chairman of the Muizenberg Historical Conservation Society, no one was ever executed there, but a ghost has been reported going down the stairs to the cells.
A human skull was found when the magistrate’s court’s floors were dug up during renovations, he says, but an archaeologist found rusted coffin fittings and other evidence suggesting it was from an informal cemetery not marked on any map.
Mr Rozenmeyer also worked as a trauma counsellor at Muizenberg police station and visited the museum before the reopening.
As a former police officer he was fascinated by the artefacts and the history and took some pictures including a picture of the staircase in the courtroom going down to the cells. He had the picture of the staircase printed to use it in a collage on Muizenberg and surrounds.
However, after gluing the picture to the collage he thought there was something missing so he cut a picture of a little girl from a magazine and glued it on the picture of the staircase for effect.
He says he then took a picture of the two images together using his cellphone, and what he saw startled him: a man had appeared next to the girl on the staircase.
“I could not believe my eyes and immediately took another photo but the man was gone.”
He believes the man was disturbed by the girl or wanted to protect her from going down to the cells. But does he believe in ghosts?
The answer is clear and without doubt: “Yes I do.”
During his time as a section officer at the Gwelo police station in Rhodesia (now Gweru, Zimbabwe) a man and his wife reported a murder they had just witnessed near the Shangani River Bridge while returning home from Bulawayo.
“The couple were clearly traumatised and hesitated to tell me the story but when they did I knew they were telling the truth,” he says.
The couple told in great detail how a young woman, naked with long blonde hair, was brutally being stabbed by five men with short stabbing spears. The couple said her eyes were filled with fear and her mouth wide open but they could not hear her blood curdling screams.
They rushed to the nearest police station. Mr Rozenmeyer then took the witness, a dog handler and three constables to the scene where there was no signs of a struggle, blood or any proof to substantiate the couple’s claims.
“We did a thorough search of about a kilometre radius in all directions but found nothing,” Mr Rozenmeyer says.
But, despite this, the couple completed an affidavit of the incident and were adamant about what they saw.
Mr Rozenmeyer recorded the incident in the occurrence book and a year later, almost to the day, a motorcyclist heading to Salisbury, (now Harare) came rushing into the charge office with the same story. While Mr Rozenmeyer was not on duty that evening, the identical search process was followed and again, no evidence was found.
It was only years later, when Mr Rozenmeyer came across the Pongo Memorial a short distance from the Shangani River Bridge where the so-called murders were seen, that it made sense to him.
The Pongo Memorial is an obelisk-shaped monument made of pink sandstone and commemorates civilian prospectors, traders and farmers, 32 men, four women and nine children, who were killed in the area during the 1896 Matabeleland Rebellion.
Mr Rozenmeyer says the names included those of a Swedish mission family. They had a blonde teenage daughter.
He is convinced that the couple and the motorcyclist saw the re-enactment of the girl’s murder.
“I could feel the hair on my arms rise. I left and never returned.”