The first known reference to Antjie Somers, a South African bogy figure, is made in The Friend

222
Friday, 10 August 1866

It is alleged that Antjie Somers was a bandit dressed in woman’s clothes who attacked travellers at night. Other sources claim that Somers was just an angry, bitter man after losing his job (having accidentally killed someone) and becoming a fugitive. Frustrated by the fact that he couldn’t return home, or lead a normal life, he stayed in the disguise that he had used to run from the law - clothes belonging to his sister. It is said that he terrorised children while wearing the disguise.

Another version is that Somers was the state executioner and torturer in the Cape Colonial government. When capital punishment and the torture of Khoi and slaves were outlawed, he found himself jobless. It is this that may have forced him into seclusion and driven him to become a killer.

There are also conflicting stories pertaining to the origin of the name ‘Antjie Somers’. Some sources claim that the name ‘Antjie’ was originally Annetjie, owing to the female attire that he wore, and was later shortened. It is also claimed that Antjie favoured coming out on warm summer nights, which is how he got his other name ‘Somers’. Other sources claim that his real name was Andries Somers, which was later changed to Antjie. There are so many different versions of his story and; this has contributed to him becoming more of a legend and a bogy figure than an actual person.

References:
• Barnard, M., 2007. Cape Town Stories. Cape Town: Struik pg. 68-9

Last updated : 07-Aug-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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