What’s in a Name

South African Country Life - - Local Flavours -

Sto­ries vary about how the Hex River Val­ley got its name, one that it comes from the

Exe River. The other ex­pla­na­tion is spooky, as ‘hex’ means ‘witch’ or ‘spell’ and in­volves a tale woven around the be­witch­ingly beau­ti­ful El­iza Meir­ing who lived on a farm at Buf­fel­skraal in the Hex River Val­ley.

In or­der to rid her­self of the at­ten­tions of suit­ors, she chal­lenged them to pick her a scar­let disa bloom (Disa uni­flora) from its habi­tat on the Ma­troos­berg moun­tain which, at 2 249m, is the high­est peak in the Western Cape. Sad to say, her favourite swain fell to his death in his at­tempt to pluck the flower as a surprise for her.

El­iza was so trau­ma­tised that she went mad and was shut away by her fam­ily in an at­tic on the farm, and fell to her death in 1768 while at­tempt­ing to es­cape. The young women of the val­ley – jeal­ous of her beauty, branded El­iza a witch and she was said to haunt the place.

Re­cently a medium claimed to have made contact with El­iza’s spirit, who ex­plained she could not rest in her grave as the real truth was that her fa­ther had pushed her from the at­tic win­dow. The fact re­mains that the val­ley’s orig­i­nal name was Exe, and has never been changed of­fi­cially, but the word ‘Hex’ con­tin­ues to haunt it.

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