South African folklore

Since September is just around the corner and it’s heritage month, I thought I’d tell you a few South African folklore stories that I grew up with. Obviously, most of these aren’t true, or suspicious, at best. Anyway, enjoy them.

The tooth mouse

In South Africa, or at least in the Afrikaner culture, we don’t have the tooth fairy but the ‘tandemuis’ (tooth mouse). There are many versions of this story, but in our home, my parents said that if we shed a tooth, we had to put the tooth in a shoe and then put the shoe under our bed. The tooth mouse would then come in the middle of the night and collect the tooth and leave you money.

The theory was that the tooth mouse collected teeth to build a house with. Geez, more like a mansion. I was always mad that my tooth mouse left me less money than my friends (who obviously had richer parents).

It’s funny, one night my dad was keeping me busy in the living room while my mom played tooth mouse and collected my tooth and left money. At that same time, I saw a rat running across the dining room. I thought I had ‘caught’ the tooth mouse in action.

For the next few days, my dad set mouse traps everywhere.

The ghost of Uniondale

Uniondale is a small town in the Eastern Cape, in South Africa. Legend has it that there is a ghost of a young woman who stands next to the road between Union dale and Willowmore.1

People believe the ghost is that of Maria Charlotte Roux, who died a young woman, only 22, in 1968 when her fiancé lost control of the car when they were travelling.1,2 

One story reports that she fell out of the car and died instantly while her fiancé was taken to the hospital. He was unconscious and couldn’t tell them about her. Another story states that she didn’t die immediately and was just unconscious, but the ambulance personal didn’t see her and only took her fiancé to the hospital. She then died of the cold and exposure.2,3

Apparently, when people see the ghost, she looks like a ‘normal’ (alive) woman. They offer her a lift because it’s dangerous to be out there in the middle of nowhere, especially for a woman.

She would get into the car and a few minutes into the trip she would just disappear—or that’s what eyewitnesses have said.

I’ve heard stories that she also just appears in your car if you’re a young man who’s driving alone on that stretch of road, but I can’t prove it, obviously.


This folklore is more common with South African indigenous peoples.

It is believed that the tokoloshe is a small, dwarf-like and hairy creature. It’s considered evil and can become invisible when swallowing a stone or drinking water.4,5

It is believed that they have many evil powers and can be conjured if you want to harm someone. They are said to cause illness or even death to their victims. There are also beliefs that they bite off your toes when you are sleeping.4

People believe they can protect themselves during the night by sleeping in a higher bed. Some people also put their beds on bricks.4

If someone thinks they are being harmed by the tokoloshe, they usually consult a traditional healer (sangoma) to expel it from their house or area.4

It is said that the tokoloshe can take over one’s body and mind completely. People have reported waking up in the middle of nowhere with no idea how they got there or what they’ve been doing the previous hours or days.5

Personally, I don’t believe in the tokoloshe, but I believe that demons exist. But I’m a Christian and I believe God protects me with the blood of Christ.


What do you think of some of these South African folklores? Do you have any folklore in your culture? I’d love to read about it in the comments.



P.S: If you have any comments, feel free to post them, or if you have any ideas for posts email me at Also, follow me on Twitter @thatmichelle91.

I used these sources: