Watch out all you Romeos, Vera is out playing in streets of Jozi
Today let's talk about ghosts. To be more precise, female ghosts that pull nasty tricks on randy men who drive around at night.
The most famous of these nocturnal sisters is Vera. Her story has been told countless times over drinks; it's been included in a number of published collections of ghost stories. And my good friend, the novelist Niq Mhlongo takes some literary liberties with Vera in his novel Way Back Home. You haven't lived in Johannesburg if you haven't heard of Vera. But I guess every town or city has its own version of Vera.
In Cape Town or Bloemfontein they might call her by a different name, and in those cities she might play her game differently. Ghosts are innovative, I'm told.
This is how she plays her game in the south of Johannesburg: Mr Randy Romeo is driving by himself at night when this woman who is the epitome of beauty suddenly appears on the side of the road, thumbing a lift.
Even in the darkness, her iridescent outfit and fashion-magazine looks are so striking the driver cannot help but stop. She climbs in.
Her perfume is so overwhelming that no matter what moral eminence the poor chap aspires to he finds himself ready to do whatever the lady commands.
The tidal wave of concupiscence inside the car is such that the man's male member breaks into a wild toyi-toyi. But the man regains his composure.
Swallowing endlessly, the better to deal with the serious case of cottonmouth that is afflicting him, he says: "Where are you going at this hour of the night, sister?"
She says: "I've got a place we could go to, if you don't mind."
The last words uttered in a sultry, seductive tone.
The man can't believe his luck. So they drive on.
The lady sits back, relaxed. Her hand accidentally touches the man's though. "Oops, I'm sorry," she says, "I was falling asleep."
She gives him directions. They end up at her beautifully appointed pozzy in the south of Joburg, in a section that looks vaguely familiar to our Romeo. It's a huge housing estate.
The following day, he wakes up in the middle of Avalon Cemetery.
The Durban version is more macabre. She plies her trade in the picturesque area called Botha's Hill where the roads snake alongside steep slopes and hills. She is as beautiful and flirtatious as her Joburg cousin.
Except that as you're driving down a particularly tricky road with many sharp hair-pin bends, and dark menacing cliffs on both sides, she will suddenly cry out in alarm: "Slow, down, dammit! The last time I was being driven here we were doing 100km/h and the car veered off the road."
Startled, the driver will say: "Your car veered off the road? And with these cliffs on either side of the road, you survived?"
"Would you have survived?" she will scream, before disappearing.
What are the chances?
The driver is likely to be so shocked he will lose control of the car which will go down the cliff.
Which is what this vengeful ghost wants, clearly. Drive there during the day, and you will see carcasses of cars in the valley below.
If there is a grain of truth in these stories, or if you believe in ghosts, clearly these women - Vera and her friends - are vengeful probably because they were killed by men.
With the land now in the grips of summer, which gives birth to romance, you Romeos out there better be careful in your nocturnal explorations of the city. Uyeza uVera!