By Sharen Thumboo
Highway Sheila has become a household name among Durbanites over the past few decades. Legend has it that she is the ghost of a young woman who was raped and killed in Chatsworth, south of Durban. She apparently roams the Higginson Highway where she’s often been seen trying to hitch a lift from passing motorists.
The stories about Highway Sheila date back several decades. One account recalls an incident of an old man who gave a lift to a young woman while driving home on a very cold night. After dropping the woman off at a house, the old man realised that he had forgotten to take back the jacket he’d lent her. The next day the man returned to retrieve his jacket, only to be told by a bemused woman that Sheila had died many years ago. The incredulous man was taken to her gravesite where he found his jacket on her tombstone.
The story, which did the rounds for many years, eventually died down. It resurfaced again recently. Durban newspapers have reported three separate incidents where members of the public have allegedly had close encounters with the restless spirit.
A Chatsworth couple reported spotting Highway Sheila while driving home from a nightclub one night. On another occasion it was reported that the “spook” had hitched a lift to the north of Durban, with a helpful motorist. She was also apparently spotted at Redcliffe by a woman who was driving her son home from work, and later by another woman driving her family home, just before midnight.
Although the ghostly one is said to be quite harmless, Hindu priests have conducted a special prayer to ensure that Sheila’s spirit can rest in peace.
Independent Online, www.iol.co.za, December 2004