The haunted hallway
The haunted hallway
August 22, 2009
Karen Van Rooyen
hereâ€™s a ghost in my house!
A production team who set out to prove that ghosts did not exist, has found one during the filming of their first episode.
South African producer and director Donovan van Wyngaard is collaborating with an American team to make a 13-part television series titled Ghost Investigators, which is aimed at debunking any claims of unnatural activity reported to the team by South Africans.
Although the series will not feature any of the countryâ€™s more well-known â€œghostsâ€, such as the Uniondale hitchhiker or Daisy de Melker, there appear to be more than enough â€œentitiesâ€ out there, judging from the requests the producers have had from the public.
And the team reckon they have captured their first ghost â€” a Cat Stevens lookalike dressed in brown who occupies a house in Parkhurst, Johannesburg.
They were converted to believing in ghosts during filming at the home of marketing and advertising freelancer Linda Bean.
â€œWe actually got this entity recorded on video and film. Itâ€™s frightening, but we actually found something,â€ Van Wyngaard said. â€œWe went through as sceptics. We got there trying to debunk this lady,â€ he said.
Bean said her daughter had been telling her about the man she saw in the passage outside her bedroom for almost 20 years.
She had always brushed off the sighting, despite strange electrical interference â€” including a ceiling fan and heater switching off â€” and an incident last year when an estate agent came to view the house and ornaments started falling off the shelves.
Then, about a month ago, Bean woke up at about midnight and saw the shadow of a person. Thinking it was an intruder, she sat up in fright and the shadow disappeared.
A day or so later, the entity appeared again â€” this time â€œclear as a bellâ€.
â€œHe was not extremely tall, (he had) dark hair and a beard and (was) in his 30s. A Cat Stevens lookalike,â€ said Bean. â€œHe wasnâ€™t frightening. He didnâ€™t look aggressive. He had this puzzled look on his face, his hand on his chin.â€
Having heard about the television show in the making, Bean called in the ghost investigators.
Before setting out to investigate Beanâ€™s visitor, Van Wyngaardâ€™s team did background checks. They get requests from people from all walks of life, but about 30% of these are â€œlooney callsâ€, he said.
One Friday night in July, the production team arrived at Beanâ€™s house. Using electronic equipment including digital and video cameras, voice recorders and thermal imaging equipment, the team set about trying to find the ghost.
Within an hour, their guest had made his presence known, Van Wyngaard said.
A separate team outside the house first picked up an abnormal image on the thermal device, while another team inside felt how the temperature dropped 5Â°C in 30 seconds.
â€œIt was so cold you could actually see vapour coming from the mouth,â€ said Van Wyngaard.
â€œWe were all petrified when we first saw it, but afterwards we were quite excited. Three of the crew members saw him clearly.â€
However, although the cameras picked up an image of the visitor, it was not clear.
Van Wyngaard said they believed the man had previously stayed in the house and that he favoured one room in particular â€” where he would â€œdo all his thingsâ€, like fiddling with electrical appliances.
But not everyone is a believer.
Marian Laserson, who started the now defunct Association for the Rational Inquiry into the Paranormal in the early â€™80s, said there was â€œabsolutely no scientific evidence of ghostsâ€.
â€œWhen people see something they cannot explain, they donâ€™t seek a rational explanation, they look for an esoteric reason,â€ she said.
â€œI love ghost stories simply because I think they are fun, but I donâ€™t believe them.â€
Delano Els, founder of the Paranormal Society, which is based in Port Elizabeth, described paranormal activity as â€œsomething unexplained... normally, something that defies reality or logical explanation, like the law of scienceâ€.
â€œA ghost is believed to be a person roaming that has not realised it has passed the physical life. Normally, one would find a ghost of someone who died tragically in, for example, a car accident, to be present at that specific spot,â€ said Els.
Each episode of Ghost Investigators will conclude with a panel discussion that includes experts from religious, paranormal and science fields.
Next, Van Wyngaardâ€™s team will head off to a â€œvery old neighbourhoodâ€ in Pretoria where they will investigate a poltergeist.
â€œPoltergeist activity is something that really scares the crap out of me,â€ said Van Wyngaard.