05 January 2012

Governor Van Noodt's mysterious death!

Source: http://www.mysteryghostbus.co.za/photo's.html
Pieter Gijsbert Van Noodt became govenor of the Cape on the 25th of Feb 1727 after a successful career in Java. He became one of the most hated of all Cape governors.

It is alleged that he embezzled monies that should have been paid to the Company’s soldiers; that he refused licenses to trade, and withheld renewals of leases; prevented adventurous youths from prosecuting the trading and elephant-hunting expeditions which had been their wont; and acted in so tyrannous a manner as to cause very nearly a revolt, in the suppression of which he exercised most excessive cruelty.

Matters came to a head in 1729, when 14 soldiers who had attempted to desert were rounded up and put on trial. Various punishments were handed down, with seven of the supposed ringleaders, who had resisted arrest, being sentenced to death.  Despite pleas for clemency from all levels of the settlement and administration, as two of the condemned were also theology students, Van Noodt held firm and the executions were scheduled for 23 April 1729 with Van Noodt decreeing, “They shall all be hanged, the brutes! They shall all hang!”, adding that "I will take it on me" in Dutch.

Three of the seven were spared death and given corporal punishment and imprisonment and four were to be hanged.  And they were. But prior to the placing of the fatal noose over the head of the last of the men, he cried out, looking towards Government House where Van Noot then was: “Governor Van Noot, I summon you in this very hour before the judgment seat of Omniscient God, there to give account for the souls of myself and my companions.”, he then let the laxman put the rope round his neck and mounted; there another rope was put on; the two fastened to the nail, and then the laxman pushed him off the ladder.  He died without a single quiver.

When the execution was over the whole council, escorted by guard, returned to the Governor’s house to report to him the execution of his sentence. There, in the audience hall, sat Van Noodt, to all appearance busy at his official desk. But, on approaching him, he made no sign of recognition; he sat motionless in his chair - dead!

It is said that Pieter Van Noodt haunts the Castle in Cape Town to this day.

The Story of the Settlement - Grahamstown As It Was, Grahamstown As It Is
T. Sheffield, Published by T. and G. Sheffield, Printers and Publishers 1884

Ghosts of South Africa
Pat Hopkins (Zebra Press) 2006

Cape Town Stories
Madeleine Barnard (Struik) 31 Aug 2007

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