A Truly Strange Night Journey: The 1974 Beit Bridge UFO Teleportation Case

Marcus Lowth
Published Date
April 12, 2024
Estimated Reading Time
17 min read
Posted in
UFOs, Close Encounters

During the summer of 1974, a journey between modern-day Zimbabwe and South Africa turned into one of the most mind-blowing and surreal encounters on record. During an overnight road journey, not only would a husband and wife witness a strange, glowing object following them, but upon completing their journey, they discovered they had covered a vast distance in hardly any time at all and using hardly any petrol. What’s more, they struggled to recall significant parts of the journey, leading to the realization that something truly out of the ordinary must have taken place that evening.

They eventually sought the help of UFO investigators, and through hypnotic regression, the fuller picture emerged. Furthermore, as we shall see, this bizarre encounter is just one of many with very similar details of cars traveling vast distances while using little or no petrol, often with the occupants of those vehicles having no memory of those journeys.

The initial report of the Beit Bridge incident appeared in an article by Bill Faill for The Natal Mercury after the couple had been put in contact with UFO researcher and investigator Carl van Vlierden, who ultimately arranged for them to undergo hypnotic regression in order to uncover their full recollections of the bizarre events that evening.

“Accompanied” To Beit Bridge By Two UFOs!

On the evening of May 30th, going into May 31st, 1974, just outside of Salisbury in Rhodesia (now modern-day Harare in Zimbabwe), husband and wife, Peter and Frances, were just on their way on a long road journey to Durban, South Africa. And it would be a journey that would change their lives forever. [1] To begin with, the night was uneventful. However, just over six miles outside the town of Umvuma (now named Mvuma), things started to take a strange turn.

Immediately after the journey, while the couple were more than aware that something strange had taken place, they were not fully aware of the truly bizarre nature of the events. In the previously mentioned article in The Natal Mercury newspaper, Bill Faill writes that “from just south of Umvuma – about halfway from Salisbury to Fort Victoria – all the way to Beit Bridge,” the couple’s car was “accompanied by first one and then two UFOs”. [2]

Francis further recalled in the article that, at around 2:30 am, “a light suddenly rose up from behind a hill”. To begin with, the couple believed the light was nothing but a helicopter. However, they could see it was “revolving” as it moved and “there was no sound”. The more they watched it, the more it appeared to be moving at the exact same speed as their vehicle. The glowing object continued to follow them, eventually disappearing just short of Fort Victoria (modern day Masvingo) where the pair stopped at a petrol station to refuel. However, not long after they had set off once more, it reappeared.

“Are We Here, Or Aren’t We?”

The object continued to follow them, all the while maintaining the same distance from them. They both remarked how the road was unusually quiet, with no other vehicles or pedestrians, which was highly unusual. Furthermore, they encountered no animals or birds along the road, which was also unusual, although each could later recall a “solitary owl” seemingly watching them briefly. Even stranger, the road suddenly felt like it was made of a “flat, marshy terrain” – which was not how the road was.

Then, the next thing the pair can remember of their journey was suddenly arriving at Beit Bridge, just short of 200 miles away. What’s more, it was now 7 am, and it was beginning to get light. Francis stated that they quickly realized they had reached the bridge “impossibly early”, and even stranger, they had “used no petrol on the journey from Fort Victoria”. Of more concern, Francis offered that Peter had later told her that “he had no control over the car and that the road was perfectly straight with not a twist or bend in it”.

At this point, both Peter and Francis were both “scared rigid”. Even more thought-provoking, Francis had memories of asking her husband repeatedly during the journey, “Are we here, or aren’t we?”, and that the whole journey was “like a dream”. Of course, following the full investigation of the case, including the hypnosis sessions, the full details of the events would come to light.

Remarkable Revelations

To begin with, van Vlierden interviewed the couple extensively to see what they could remember. Peter, for example, recalled a strange event before the couple noticed the peculiar light appearing near the hill. Just after they had gone past Umvuma, Peter and Francis saw what they thought was a policeman “sitting at the side of the road” and appeared to be holding a “walkie-talkie”.

Although he wasn’t going particularly fast, and the road wasn’t known as a “speed trap”, Peter believed the policeman – as he perceived the figure – was likely there to catch speeding vehicles and so he slowed his car down. Both Peter and Francis now recalled how the policeman was wearing a strange “metallic-looking suit” which also appeared slightly “plasticky”. It was not long after this that the glowing object appeared over the hill. It was further recalled that the light had a “bluish tinge” to it and was “bright and steady, on for five seconds, off for two seconds”.

Carl van Vlierden (c) Flying Saucer Review

Then, the car headlights began to grow dimmer, as did any interior lighting, although, perhaps strangely, the car radio continued to broadcast with no problem whatsoever. Even more intriguing were Peter’s recollections that there was an “immense light around the car” that he likened to “neon lights”. Stranger still, both recalled that it suddenly became extremely cold, certainly much colder than it should have been at that time of year. In fact, it was so cold that each of them put on their coat and Peter switched on the car’s electric heater.

At this point, Peter took his foot off the gas, but, to his shock, the vehicle continued forward at a constant speed of 90 miles per hour. Not only did he have no control over the apparent speed of the vehicle, but he also had no control over the steering wheel, which refused to move one way or the other. He recalled that he only took his foot off the gas once, adding that he was “petrified but said nothing to Frances”. Francis, however, was more than aware that they were traveling on “automatic pilot” and recalled that “the car seemed perfectly controlled” and that she “saw nothing untoward”.

When Francis asked her husband how he could remain so calm, he responded that it was “only a UFO” and that there was, essentially, nothing he could do about it. The revelations, however, would keep coming.

The Abandoned Night Buses

The strange, glowing object continued to follow them to just before they reached Fort Victoria, at one point switching from one side of the vehicle to the other. As this was happening, the couple passed what seemed to be a bus parked at the side of the road. Although all of the lights were on inside the bus, as were the headlights on the front, it appeared completely empty. Furthermore, there was no sign anywhere nearby of any of the passengers or even the driver.

Peter recalled how odd this was, as usually these buses were absolutely “crammed with passengers”, as well as being loaded with luggage and even bikes on the bus roof, with some passengers even traveling with their luggage up top. Frances, too, recalled that the sight was “very weird”.

Map of Peter and Francis’ journey (c) Flying Saucer Review

They continued down the road, the bus parked in the direction they were heading. However, only moments later, they passed two more buses, each around a mile from each other. These were also parked with their lights on and engines running and facing the direction Peter and Francis had driven from. Once more, no people were seen anywhere near the buses.

It was bizarre to find three abandoned buses on this particular road. And Rhodesian law stated that if a bus should break down, the driver is required to place a red warning sign on the road behind it so as to warn other road users. None of the buses they had passed had these lights.

Now, only several miles from Fort Victoria, a strange beam suddenly shot from the object trailing them before it sped into the night sky, disappearing in an instant.

A Second Appearance

It was around 4:30 am by the time Peter and Francis pulled into the service station to take a rest, their headlights still not working, something the petrol pump attendant immediately remarked on. He also appeared perplexed at Francis and the thick fur coat she was wearing. She offered that it had been a “very cold night”, something which the attendant was clearly surprised at, as well he might, given that he was dressed in a thin top and shorts.

The pair decided to rest for a short while, and by the time they returned to the service station around 5:30 am, the interior of the car was no longer cold. Even stranger, although a welcome surprise, when Peter turned the engine on, the headlights and interior lights also came to life.

They pulled out of the service station, hopeful that the night’s high strangeness was over. However, after having only driven several miles, the object appeared again. In fact, when they focused on the sky behind them, they could now see not just one bright object but two of them. What’s more, rather than appearing from behind a hill as the object had previously done, this time, it seemed these curious crafts appeared out of nowhere.

They continued on, once more noticing how quiet the road was in terms of other vehicles and road users. This was particularly strange as the upcoming day was a public holiday in South Africa, and so the road should have been even busier than usual. However, the three buses aside – all of which were, we might recall, abandoned – they had not seen any other motorists, pedestrians, or even animals.

Strange Changes To The Environment

Francis continued to watch the objects behind them as they continued on. She would later recall that she noticed the landscape and terrain around them had changed, and not at all what she was familiar with, having made previous journeys along this road. She recalled that the land appeared wet, and there were bushes and tall grass near the roadside – as if they were traveling through some kind of swampy region.

Peter would also recall this apparent change of terrain, stating that there were “large expanses of swamp, and water on the surface, which I could see reflecting the light from above”.  He confirmed that while the road itself was dry, the other surroundings were reminiscent of a “tropical” environment.

Francis further recalled that there was a strange silence around them (although the radio was still playing – seemingly, the same program over again), with no animal sounds, not even crickets. Of more concern, their speed had somehow crept up to over 100 miles per hour. Peter recalled that, once more, he had no control over the car, and that it “did its own thing”.  Although he tried to remain calm, he recalled feeling completely terrified the more he realized that “someone else was operating the car”.

What further confused the pair was that the road appeared to be completely straight, even though, from previous journeys, they knew that it took many turns and bends. Then, things became even more confusing.

Lost All “Trace Of Time”

As they continued, the pair realized that they had seemingly bypassed dawn. They had no memory of the sun rising, for example. The sky had just gone from a dark night sky to an overcast morning grey. At this point, it was around 6:15 am

Francis recalled still being able to see the UFOs in the distance, and strangely, the car radio was suddenly quiet. She further contemplated just how strange it had been that they had not had to change the radio station despite the long distance they had traveled. Partly because of the sudden silence and partly due to the very surreal nature of the events, Francis fell asleep not long after.

Peter recalled that he had begun to lose all “trace of time” and felt like he was “in a coma”. Even stranger, he stated that only minutes after his wife fell asleep, his memory suddenly went completely blank, elaborating that he was almost “mesmerized by the unending, solid stream of road”.

Francis stated that this part of the journey was “horrible” and by far the “worst bit”, adding that they “didn’t know if we were still on Earth”. She woke up once more just after 7 am when they were approaching Beit Bridge. The two objects remained visible behind them at a considerable distance.

For reasons unknown, when the pair finally approached the customs officers at the crossing of the bridge, neither of them mentioned the two strange objects to them, and in the moments that followed, they seemingly disappeared.

There was, however, one more twist to the whole affair – the speedometer stated they had only traveled a little over 10 miles despite them being almost 180 miles away from where they had set off. Even stranger, the petrol tank was nearly full. Although Peter had filled it before they set off, he fully expected to have to top it up at this point in their journey. However, when he attempted to do so, he could only add a further 22 cents worth of petrol.

Needless to say, Peter and Francis, as well as those investigating the case, were truly baffled. There would, though, be even further revelations when Peter agreed to undergo hypnotic regression.

Further Revelations From Hypnosis

The regression was overseen by Dr. Paul Obertik, a friend of van Vlierden whom he had met as a member of the South African Society for Psychical Research. He would take Peter back to when they had just left Fort Victoria and when they first noticed the two objects’ appearance. Not long after the objects appeared, Peter recalled that they “sent down beams of light…or beams of some description”, adding that he didn’t know “what type they were” but they “gave the car a complete mind of its own”, elaborating that it had “its own sense of power, direction speed, (and) steering”.

Dr. Paul Obertik (c) Flying Saucer Review

Even stranger, Peter recalled that, in his words, “the car was telling me what to do, how to do it”. For example, he suddenly heard voices telling him to light a cigarette and smoke it and to switch the station of the car’s radio station. Even more intriguing, he stated that the broadcast on the radio “sounded like music, but it wasn’t”, elaborating that it was “direct signals” from the object hovering above them. He further described these signals as being like “impulses to the car” which he did his best to resist but was unable to do so.

Stranger still revealed under hypnosis that a “simulated screen” appeared in front of the windscreen, as well as at the side and back of the vehicle. Moreover, from this point, he insisted that they traveled “off the top of the road” and did so in a “dead straight line”. When they touched back down on the road near Beit Bridge, the two objects immediately ascended a couple of miles above them but remained in sight.

At this point in the session, Peter stated that this was only a brief description of what had happened. He had “more details” to reveal.

“Programmed” And “Put To Sleep”

Obertik asked about these other details. Peter responded that he and Francis were “programmed inside the motor car”, elaborating that he suspected that Francis was “put to sleep” by the occupants of the UFO through the radio, meaning she had no memory of large parts of the journey. Then, things turned even stranger.

Out of nowhere, a “form” was “beamed” into the vehicle onto the back seat. This entity remained in the vehicle for the remainder of the journey and communicated with Peter (it isn’t clear if this was through telepathy or whether it physically spoke with him). According to what Peter could recall, the entity told him that he would “see what I wanted to see”, elaborating that if he “wanted it to look like a monster, then it looked like a monster” (we might assume that the “it” referred to was the entity itself).

Peter continued that it only took the entity several seconds to realize that he had had similar past experiences (something we will examine shortly). Furthermore, the entity attempted to erase his memories of these incidents so that he would not be able to recall them, even under hypnosis.

He then offered that although he didn’t physically go inside the object, he could “see, through the beams”, what it looked like and what was happening inside. After being asked about this by Obertik, Peter went on that there were three levels to the object, with the bottom level being “the power unit”. In contrast, the second level contained the engines, rest centers, living quarters, and communications. The top level, on the other hand, was an “inter-astral control center”. These levels were connected by “two vacuum shafts” which were also used to transport the occupants onboard.

Also on the top level was a “laboratory section” where humans were sometimes taken, and their surroundings were simulated.

“They Look How I Want Them To Look!”

Obertik then asked Peter to describe the entities themselves. However, he responded as he did before, stating that they “look how I wanted them to look.” Obetik persisted, asking Peter if they had “any real form” and if they were “physical beings”.

Although he didn’t give any specific details, Peter did state that these entities were all the exact same color, shape, and weight – ultimately, they were completely identical. Furthermore, they had the “same basic form as humans”, although he offered that they had no reproductive organs. Obertik asked Peter if he knew how they reproduced without any such organs, but he could only respond that he didn’t know.

This is an interesting detail, as many UFO researchers have highlighted this detail that shows up in many other close contact and alien abduction cases. Indeed, it is the view of many that it is this inability to reproduce naturally that is one of the main drives of these alien abductions – that they are attempting to create a hybrid creature with human DNA from unwilling volunteers. With that in mind, it is interesting that the apparent inability to reproduce should come up – and that it comes up in such an off-the-cuff way perhaps makes it all the more noteworthy.

“They Are Time Travelers, Not Space Travelers!”

Next, Obertik moved on to where these apparent alien visitors came from, to which Peter responded that he knew it was from the “outer galaxies”. He did state, though, that they were “friendly” and meant no harm to humans. Obertik then enquired why they didn’t simply make open contact if they had such a friendly nature.

Peter tried to explain that this would mean they would “have to change the world” so that people could understand and even perceive them, something that they didn’t wish to do. Obertik continued with further questions, such as if they believed in God (they didn’t) or if they died (they did). Peter also offered that they spoke “mentally” (we might assume he means through telepathy) and that “they know every language of the galaxies”.

He then turned his attention to how these entities traveled and how fast they did so. To this, Peter responded that they “traveled by time” and not by light, elaborating that even the speed of light was too slow to travel the vast reaches of space, so they would travel back in time in order to travel to Earth. Ultimately, he stated, “they are time travelers, not space travelers”.

The car the couple traveled in (c) Flying Saucer Review

He continued that this race came from “twelve planets of the Milky Way” and that they were 2000 light years ahead. This use of the word “ahead” is interesting. Did he mean ahead, as in how far advanced this alien race is, or did he mean to express distance and that they were 2000 light years away from Earth?

Obertik’s next question, and more specifically, Peter’s response to it, is perhaps the most mind-blowing revelation of all. When asked if there were “any of them among us, unnoticed”, Peter responded that there were thousands of them. He continued that they were “clerks, typists, businessmen, university students”; essentially, they existed in all walks of life. He continued that these entities “make contact only when they want to” and that the aim of this contact is to “influence” people.

A Previous Ability To Astral Travel

During the course of the investigations – something that also briefly came up during the regression session – it would come to light that Peter had had previous strange encounters. For example, up until only several years earlier, he regularly “astral traveled”, something he had done since he was a teenager. He claimed it was something he had taught himself and could do at will. However, after meeting Francis, who was a little spooked by it all, he stopped doing it.

On this, Francis offered that one particular night, she thought Peter had died as he appeared not to be breathing. Even worse, she recalled she could “almost see through him, his skin was almost transparent”. Because he had spoken to her about astral traveling, she soon realized that he was likely traveling then, and eventually saw that he was, in fact, breathing, although it was “very shallow”. She didn’t wake him up, and then, around 10 minutes later, she realized that his breathing had returned to normal, and he was no longer transparent. That was the last time Peter astral traveled.

What was particularly intriguing was that Peter claimed that the UFO encounter had left him with “exactly the same sensation that one gets when one is parting from one’s own self”.

What’s more, Peter didn’t just have the ability to astral travel. It also came to light that he had “telepathic powers” since around the same age. Incidentally, since the events that May night in 1974, Peter claimed his telepathic ability was fading somewhat. However, at the same time, his ability to take in new information and to concentrate, in general, had significantly improved.

A “Flying Saucer” Sighting 10 Years Previously

Perhaps most interesting of all of these previous encounters was a sighting of a “flying saucer” in July 1964, 10 years earlier. He told van Vlierden that he was traveling with his father in his van during his delivery trips just outside of Shabani. It was around 11:30 am, and they were making their way along a dirt road and coming up to a bend ahead.

As they turned the corner, they saw a disc-shaped object ahead of them, measuring around 70 feet across and hovering around four feet above the ground. His father hit the brake as hard as he could, bringing their vehicle to a halt. It remained there for several moments before suddenly shooting off straight up and disappearing. His father also saw the object, although he didn’t discuss it afterward. In fact, his father ordered Peter not to tell anyone what they had seen.

Peter’s sketch of what he saw in 1964 (c) Flying Saucer Review

Peter further described the object as being a “gun-metal grey” color with several “black sections”. Even stranger, when the object shot upward, it sprayed dust from the road in all directions. Peter recalled that this dust “clung to the car for days and weeks” after the incident and was “baked” into the paintwork in some places.

What is also interesting about this particular incident is that it occurred not too far away from the encounter that would happen in May 1974. Of more importance, it is an area rich in valuable minerals used for NASA spacecraft. If these minerals are of value to NASA for vehicles that travel in space, then we might imagine that they are of value to other space-traveling civilizations.

Whether of consequence or not, his father was transporting electronic tuning equipment on the day of the sighting. When they examined the equipment shortly after the sighting, they found that every valve and diode was “blown”.

Just One Of Many Such Cases Around The World

It is worth our time to briefly highlight just some of the many other similar encounters that would appear to be a case of teleportation – or at the very least, exceptionally fast travel in some advanced mystery vehicle.

Just over five years later, for example, in September 1979, Harry Turner was driving his truck between Winchester and Fredericksburg in Virginia when he experienced a very similar encounter. He had awoken with a start in a parking lot he didn’t recognize. What’s more, his handgun and eight shells were beside him on the passenger seat. It was at this point that the strange details of the evening rushed back into his mind.

He had been driving along the highway when a strange light approached his moving vehicle, eventually completely enveloping it, much like the “simulated screens” that surrounded Peter and Francis’ car. Like that encounter, Harry found that he could no longer steer the vehicle and didn’t quite know where he was. The next thing he knew, something opened the cabin door. The last thing Harry recalled was firing his weapon before he blacked out.

The next thing he knew, he was waking up in the strange parking lot. He looked at his watch, noting that it was 11 pm. However, when he saw the clock on a warehouse nearby, he was shocked to see it said the time was 3 am. He eventually discovered he was around 80 miles from his location. However, when he checked the truck’s speedometer, it stated he had actually only traveled 17 miles. How he had covered the remaining 63 miles was a complete mystery to him.

Only the previous year, in June 1978, the Mann family had a very similar encounter as they drove from Reading to Brockworth in England. They, too, noticed a strange bright light during their journey before suddenly finding themselves on an unfamiliar road with what looked like tall hedges on both sides. What’s more, John Mann found that he was no longer in control of the car. The next thing they realized, they were almost home. However, they also realized they couldn’t account for around two hours of time. They would eventually undergo hypnotic regression, revealing a very similar encounter to both Peter and Francis, and Harry Turner – ultimately, an alien abduction.

A Credible If Bizarre Case

As we can see, then, as bizarre and even as outlandish as Peter and Francis’ account is, there are many other similar encounters around the world that have taken place for decades, both before and after the Beit Bridge encounter. Furthermore, investigators found Peter and Francis to be more than credible witnesses, with no reason for them to believe they had fabricated any part of the account. These two factors combined should alert us to the fact that this encounter is one that should very much be kept on the mental backburner when considering the mysteries of the UFO and alien question.

Just where did the car go when it left Fort Victoria? Is it possible that it was somehow taken onboard one of the objects that followed them that evening? Or were they in some kind of wormhole or portal? Indeed there are more questions than answers in this strange and thought-provoking case. And should we as a collective discover just some of the answers to those questions then they very well might shine a light on the unanswered questions of the UFO mystery, in general.

Perhaps would does make this case stand out are the other strange encounters that Peter found himself in during his lifetime, as well as his ability to use telepathy and even astral project. Are all of these things connected to each other? Might he have had previous contacts with these strange entities (other than the one he recalled) that he simply can’t remember? We might recall he claimed he was told that his memory of the encounter in the car would be erased. Could it be that while this didn’t appear to have worked on this occasion that it had in the past?

Only time will tell if any further information on the case comes to light regarding the Beit Bridge incident. When it is viewed alongside other similar cases, though, it surely has further truths about the UFO and alien mysteries to reveal.

The short video below is a UFO documentary that was released in 1974, the same year as the Beit Bridge case took place.


1 Escorted By UFOs From Umvuma To Beit Bridge, Carl van Vlierden, Flying Saucer Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, August 1975
2 Car Teleported By UFOs In Rhodesia, Charles Bowen, Flying Saucer Review, Vol. 21, No. 1, June 1975

Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies, and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years of experience.

Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

Read Marcus' full bio.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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