A 38-year-old Indonesian security guard has been charged with assault after kicking a 20-year-old woman in the face after mistaking her for a predatory ghost.
The guard was on duty in Bandung, Java, when “suddenly a figure, who was sitting on the floor and clad in white with hair covering the face, moved slowly in a weird way toward the elevator,” according to the Jakarta Post.
The guard “sensed a threat to himself and the others in the elevator” and kicked the ghost to the floor “so that everyone ... could run and save themselves,” the security officer’s lawyer told the Jakarta Post.
However, guard Sunarya’s seemingly noble deeds have landed him more punishment than accolades, as the “ghost” turned out to be the 20-year-old daughter of a coal businessman who was in the hotel playing a “ghost trick” for a friend’s birthday. She was later hospitalized with a bruised face and broken tooth.
Sunarya now faces charges of assaulting the girl, who was dressed as a suster ngesot (crawling nurse ghost).
The Indonesian archipelago, while predominantly Muslim, is strongly influenced by spiritual and supernatural myths from its Malay, Hindu and Buddhist heritage. Common ghost sightings often refer to floating female figures dressed in white, with long hair and, sometimes, long fingernails.
Ghost and vampire movies are wildly popular in Indonesia (some erotic, many homemade), but supernatural action is not confined to the screen.
Last month, at least 10 people were reportedly possessed by spirits after visiting a mahogany tree in Jakarta said to house a pocong (shrouded corpse ghost) and kuntilak (female vampire ghost).
The tree had to be cut down and the minister of religious affairs was called in to calm hysterical crowds, but the spirits were reported to have merely moved on to a neighboring tree.
As supernatural creatures in Indonesia can often take on terrifying forms such as the jenglot (a mummified vampiric doll with fangs and long hair who feeds off human and animal blood), it is not surprising many Indonesians approach ghosts with some trepidation.
As one reader, following Sunarya’s story, wrote to the Jakarta Post: “Sunarya should receive a medal, or at least be showered with honors, for acting so courageously in facing what he initially thought was a real ghost.”
However, the security officer remains modest.
“I have a wife and two little children, I hope everything will be fine,” he told reporters. “I just did my job as a security guard.”