In 1967 an American Missionary Organisation, Pilgrims’ Holiness, had a mission in Mt Frere. The mission was run by the Gray family who went on holiday to Mbotyi that year. Some time during the holiday, the father and eldest son were left to mind the children on the beach. The children were a boy and girl Vinny aged 6 and Susie Aged 4. Father and son decided to go fishing and left the two young children in the care of the family servants. When they returned from fishing, the father and son found the servants hysterical. The children had disappeared.
Eleanor Grant, daughter of Rick, remembers the incident well.
“…Word soon went out that these missionary kids had disappeared. A massive search party gathered and everybody searched the hills, sand dunes and shoreline. The army was called in and the lagoon was even dredged. The children had vanished into thin air. If the kids had drowned their bodies would have washed up but this did not happen. To this day nobody knows what became of them. For months afterwards the Gray family would wander the hills calling out for their lost children. It was an unbelievably sad thing to witness. The theory at the time was that it was Khotso’s curse and that the children had been taken for muti. Of course this was never proved. For years afterwards we never let our own kids out of our sight…”
On a dark night, don’t be surprised if you bump into the Gray children on Mbotyi beach. Nick Robertson gave this chilling account of his sighting of the Gray children:
“The story you ask about occurred about 10 years ago. We were having a New Years party at Glyn Bodley’s cottage. This fact may cause you to raise your eyebrows but let me assure you that all that I tell you is true.
It was after midnight when Ian Holmes and myself decided to take a walk across the beach to the hotel. When we were well onto the beach we saw two people and walked up to them.
The first thing we noticed was their strange garments. The man wore a monk’s cowl. Around his waist he had a type of coarse rope. The whole garment was of a dark colour. I suppose a little like the colour of a true monk’s cowl. It was hooded. The woman I walked right up to was dressed in a very similar white garment. Hers did not have the hood.
We didn’t recognise them and Ian asked them which “camp” they were from. One of the strangest things about the whole happening was they didn’t say one word. The man appeared to grow right before our eyes to the height of at least seven foot or more. He them attempted to wave us away. His garment was splayed (I think that is the correct word) at the end of his arms. I watched him wave Ian away and his arm going through Ian’s head. Ian said that he didn’t feel any air moving.
They then walked off and appeared to fade out into the sea.”
Info updated 22 September 2003 with many thanks to Jean Pendleton (nee Gray) of Michigan USA the sister of the missing children.
Amongst the bidders at The Barber Estate Auction was Khotso. Everybody thought that with his wealth and power it was a done deal that Khotso would be the new owner of the hotel site. At the last minute Khotso withdrew his bid and the site was knocked down to Rick Grant and his partners for a mere £50. Khotso felt hard done by and uttered a curse before leaving the auction in disgust. Nobody knows why Khotso withdrew his bid – one popular theory is that just before the bidding started he was reminded that the apartheid laws of the time might disqualify him from acquiring ownership.
The Khotso legend was to return to Mbotyi years later when it was said that he was linked to the disappearance of the Gray children.