The Hitchhiking Ghost of Uniondale: The Terrifying Sightings of Ria Roux

Between the towns of Willowmore and Uniondale in the Western Cape of South Africa, motorcyclists and car drivers have reported sightings of the Uniondale Hitchhiker ghost for years.

Uniondale Hitchhiker Ghost
Drivers and motorcyclists are among the most frequent to report a sighting of the Uniondale Hitchhiker

The story of the Uniondale Hitchhiker started on April 12 (Good Friday), 1968, South Africa, when Michiel (Giel) Oberholzer, an army corporal and his 22-year-old fiance, Maria (Ria) Charlotte Roux, an administrative clerk, were on their way from Pretoria to visit Ria's parents in Riversdale to discuss the arrangements for their future wedding.

Ria was asleep whilst they were travelling in Giel's Volkswagen Beetle car, approximately 20 kilometres from the town of Uniondale when a strong wind caused Giel to lose control of the vehicle, which flipped near the Barandas turnoff, it is believed that Ria was thrown from the vehicle into a ditch and was tragically killed instantly.

Giel survived the crash but was seriously injured and whilst he was in a state of complete shock and confusion he could not find Ria in the dark. A passing motorist stopped and got Giel into his car and drove him straight to the hospital. Another motorist that was passing stopped at the overturned car and made the horrific discovery of Ria's body, the man who found her took her ID, her handkerchief and some loose change that she had and would later post it to her mother, with a letter explaining that when he found Ria, her face was "happy, like an angel's, and like someone who had complete peace with herself". After the tragic death Ria was buried in Riversdale cemetery, where her grave can still be seen today.

The Uniondale Ghost Hitchhiker story
Ria was tragically only 22-years-old when she died, she is buried at a cemetery in Riversdale

Giel went on to marry another woman approximately one year after the tragic death of Ria, some people believe this could have been the cause of her spirit becoming restless whilst others say since she was asleep at the time of her death she is still out on the road searching for her fiance.

Below are a collection of some of the most well documented sightings.

Leonard & Catharina Fraser

The first reported sighting of what is believed by many to be the spirit of Ria was in 1973, when a man by the name of Leonard Fraser with his wife, Catharina, were driving down that same section of road on the N9 at approximately midnight when they saw a girl wearing a long white gown.

‘’She was standing on a storm-water drain,’’ said Catharina, 32. ‘’She didn’t look human. I could see through her.’ Apparently, when they stopped to pick her up, she “disappeared”.

Anton La Grange Sighting

The most spoken about potential sighting came on May 1, 1976 by Anton La Grange, who was driving down the Uniondale to Willowmore road close to the small town of Uniondale.

‘’I saw a girl standing at the side of the road,’’ he recalled. ‘’I stopped. She opened the door and got in. I asked where she wanted to go and she said ‘Porter street 2, de Lange.’ She was dark-haired with a pale face, dressed in a dark coat and slacks. ‘’After a few miles, I turned my head and she was gone!’’

La Grange, who was now completely baffled with what had just happened drove into Uniondale and went straight to the police station and reported what had happened to the on- duty sergeant, Cornelius "Snowy" Potgieter, before continuing on his journey. Anton La Grange then told of another terrifying experience shortly after leaving the police station, "Just outside Uniondale, I heard the most chilling sound I’ve ever heard in my life,’’ he recalled. ‘’To this day I can’t tell you if it was a laugh or a scream. It was right in the car, really loud… although I was absolutely alone!’’

Understandably terrified, La Grange quickly sped back to Uniondale and back to sergeant Potgieter who searched his car with him, finding absolutely no trace of the girl who was supposedly in the back seat earlier.

La Grange once again set off on his journey, this time with the police sergeant following him in his van.

’Just outside Uniondale, while I was driving at a steady 40 mph, the right rear door of my car slowly opened and closed,’’ said La Grange.

‘’It was a controlled gentle opening and closing, exactly as if someone got out and then shut the door behind them.’’

Sergeant Potgieter remembered: ‘’La Grange drove through a patch of mist and about 200 yards beyond the mist, I saw the right rear door slowly open and close as if somebody got out.’’ Stressed and anxious with what had happened, Sergeant Potgieter returned to the police station, locked up for the night and went home.

The description that La Grange had given Sergeant Potgieter had brought back some unsettling memories for him. At around 8am the following morning, Potgieter asked another police sergeant, Pat McDonald if he had remembered the girl that was killed on that same road a few years ago, Pat McDonald was the first officer to attend the accident that fateful day in 1968. ”I found a Volkswagen Beetle off the road, and a girl was lying on her back with her head against the embankment, she had died of head injuries. I later ascertained that her name was Maria Roux. The driver survived. I explained to sergeant Potgieter what the girl actually looked like, which was exactly the same description that was given by La Grange.”

It took no time at all for the news of a ghostly hitchhiker on the N9 road and before long everyone in Uniondale was talking about it, several days later the newspapers had contacted Ria's mother.

”I told her about the story and that the people thought it’s her daughter that is haunting in that area, and she gave me a photograph of her.” Said Janie Meyer, a local journalist

Meyer later showed the photo to La Grange, who responded by saying, "It was the same girl, there is no doubt about it."

40-year-old Anton La Grange later went on to say: "It frightened me so much, I've never been back since."

Dawie van Jaarsveld Sighting

The next sighting came on Easter weekend in 1978, Army Corporal Dawie Van Jaarsveld was enrolled in his national service at Oudtshoorn army base, roughly 100 miles away from Uniondale. He was on leave and was travelling to spend his time off with his girlfriend, his trip took him down the N9 road.

”When I reached the intersection, I saw somebody standing on the side of the road. Just as I turned to the right, she kind of lifted her arms up – like ‘oh no, aren’t you going to stop’.” he recalled.

Dawie stopped his motorbike and saw a young women who he claimed had dark hair and was wearing dark clothing, he offered her a lift, he gave her his spare helmet and an earpiece so she had some music to listen to on their journey.

”I asked her to please hold tight around my waist so that I can feel if something goes wrong. After a kilometre or two, the bike had a twitch, I thought she fell off. A lot of scenes went through my mind. I turned around, I wanted to see if I still had someone with me, there was nobody. I turned around, went back with the motorcycle to see if there was anybody lying along the road. I saw the spare helmet was back on my luggage rack, then I just had to move off because I realised then that I didn’t actually pick somebody up.”

The ghost of Uniondale
Both Anthon La Grange and Dawie Van Jaarsveld were left terrified by their experiences

Dawie was obviously shaken after the incident, wondering what could possibly have happened to the girl that he knew he had picked up. Journalist Janie Meyer said, ”Corporal Dawie van Jaarsveld also said she was a shortish girl, short dark hair (brunette), and she had slacks on and a jersey. That was the same description of La Grange as well.”

”I didn’t think there was something wrong at the time. I didn’t notice that it was a spirit or something. But I did feel strange.”

Andre Coetzee Sighting

Again on Good Friday, this time in 1980, Andre Coetzee, a 20-year-old motorcyclist has a terrifying experience whilst he was down the N9 road past Uniondale looking for a friend he believed had run out of fuel.

”All of a sudden I felt hands around my waist, I could actually feel the pressure and as I looked down I saw the hands. I was very very scared and I felt I must get away from that place. That is when I accelerated and at about 150 Km she gave me three whacks against the head and then she just disappeared. I never saw nobody standing next to the road or nothing.”

Andre drove to a local cafe in Uniondale for help. ”He could hardly speak when we asked him what had happened,” said Jeanetta Meyer, the cafe owner. ”But gradually it dawned on us that the woman ghost had appeared once more,” she said.

Andre’s story was written up in an American newspaper, although some details written by the journalist are incorrect, such as the woman died in a motorcycle accident and she was blonde.

Andre Coetzee Uniondale Ghost
The newspaper clipping (left) shows the story of Andre Coetzee in an American Newspaper

Danny De Kock Sighting

Whilst on honeymoon in 1983, Danny De Kock claimed to have had an experience with the hitchhiking ghost of Uniondale. He recalls: ”My wife and I stopped next to the road to take a rest. My wife was asleep in the passenger seat. It was late at night and there wasn’t the slightest wind. I got out and walked around the car (VW Beetle) for a wee when a terrible sound like a rushing wind came rolling down the road and went dead quiet as it reached the car. I got the fright of my life and ran back to the driver’s side to be met by someone sitting in my seat. I ran back to the other side again to pull my wife from the car as I thought we were being hijacked but upon wakening my wife I discovered the other person was gone. We left the spot in a hurry and about 500 meters down the road we saw this woman in what seemed to be dressed in a gown, waving at us to slow down. I reduced speed in case it was someone in need of help but before we could reach her she disappeared. I stopped at a garage in Uniondale and told a stranger about my experience and that was the first time I learned about this ghost. You can imagine the chills that went down my spine. This is the honest truth.”

The Sightings Stopped

Although people on social media have sometimes claimed to witness strange things on that stretch of road, in-depth reports of paranormal activity involved the spirit of Ria appeared to stop in 1984,

Strangely, 1984 was also the year that Giel (Ria's fiance) also tragically died in a car accident, according to the locals of Uniondale the ghost of Ria stopped being sighted after this and has not been seen for a long time.

We investigate and delve into a lot of stories about paranormal happenings, but this one was something quite special and we hope that you enjoyed reading it, we would also love to hear your opinions about it in the comments section below. Now you have read about the ghost of Uniondale, make sure you check out the story of the ghost of blue bell hill, the UK's most haunted road.


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