We have been living near Durban for three generations, but the story I was told this morning sent shivers down my spine.
I was introduced to the legend of Highway Sheila.
Many motorists, police officers and emergency personnel have reported similar events surrounding a phenomenon on Higginson Highway
in Chatsworth. An Indian woman, dressed in black, attempts to flag down passing vehicles, apparently hitching a ride.
The version I was told was that the young woman either died in a car accident or was brutally murdered in this area, and haunts motorists for revenge. She either runs next to the vehicle or jumps into the road. Should the motorist stop, she normally gets in. Sometimes she may even appear in your car whilst driving through the area.
drove along Havenside Drive at 2:30 in the morning, when a woman wearing a black pants jumped in front of their car. They swerved and sped off.
Another witness claimed to have seen her sitting behind a car in Redhill. Her hair was covering her face, she wore a black top, but the lower half of her body was a white glare. The next evening, she was there again, sitting in the same position.
A Chatsworth resident claims that he lent her his jacket when he gave her a lift home. When he returned the next day for his jacket, the woman that answered the door said that the young lady that lived there, died a few years before. When he visited the local cemetery to make sure, his jacket was draped over her tombstone.
On 23 December 2004, today four years ago, swamis from the Divine Life Society held a prayer meeting on the spot frequented by Sheila. They assured townsfolk that restless souls are not harmful in any way, but this did not seem to help. The accident in December last year, claiming 5 lives, is believed to be part of her quota of deaths on Higginson Highway.
A local producer made a film about her, entitled Durban Legend. Another fascinating revelation I received via Google, is that I know one of the eyewitnesses very well. More bizarre is the fact that I have personally met Highway Sheila.
In December, a few years ago, I was on my way to take my mother some tea. This may sound like a strange thing to do so late at night, but what can I do when my mommy is dying for a cup. About 15 kilometers from Sheila's normal spot, a young Indian woman, dressed in tight black jeans and a matching top, staggered into the road in front of my car. I could not swerve, due to oncoming traffic, and running her down seemed like the wrong thing to do at the time. I stopped, after which she proceeded to the passenger side of the car and attempted to open the door. I opened the window instead, just enough for a fingertip to enter.
She said she had an argument with her boyfriend, that he beat her up and left her there. Her slurring confirmed my initial suspicion that she had had one too many. She asked me if I could take her home, since she did not know where she was. I was in a moral dilemma. Should I take her home and make my mother wait for her tea, or should I pull off and face the fact that I suck as a person. Needless to say, the naive softy in me agreed to her request.
She said that she lived at The Gables on the Esplanade, so I turned around and headed for Durban. One minute down the road she asked if I wanted to "go somewhere" to have a "drink or something". As I approached the police station, I mentioned to her that I know many people that work there, and that I am sure they will be more than happy to take her home, should I ask them for a favour. To my amazement, she declined my well intentioned offer, and demanded that I let her out of the car.
It seems like Highway Sheila enjoys the odd stiff one and is a bit people shy.