Prostitutes besiege Manor

2014-04-09 00:00

THE Manor area in Pietermaritzburg was once a quiet, respectable tree-lined suburb, but locals say today they are besieged by prostitutes as their neighbourhood goes to the dogs.

Now residents are drawing a line in the sand. They say they’ve had enough.

Manor residents are demanding the authorities act to help turn around an area that is home to retirement villages like Riverside Park Home and Allison Homes, and well-known schools like Longmarket Girls’ Primary and the boys’ Merchiston Preparatory.

But even the police say they can’t win the fight on their own and point to low fines that they say do little to deter women from returning to the streets.

Prostitutes have invaded the area and ply their trade on a 24-hour basis, in bed-and-breakfasts that offer hourly accommodation and, for those clients unwilling to spend extra, the trees at the Manor sports ground are well used.

Residents say the streets — and their gardens — are often littered with used condoms. They say prostitutes are not afraid to proposition visitors — and worshippers at the local mosque — by unashamedly baring themselves.

They say that attempts to get the Msunduzi Municipality to implement its bylaws and remove the women have yielded no results.

Ihsaan Abdul Khaliq said, “As a resident and property owner, I am appalled by the lack of speedy and effective response to the problem of prostitution from the municipality and police.

“Besides that it is a criminal offence, it is also against municipal bylaws [using a residential area for purposes other than what it was zoned for].”

He said the appearance of the women on the roads (Prince Alfred, Burger, Maple and Retief streets, and side lanes) had coincided with increased crime in the area.

“Residents have had enough and we need to take a stand against immorality in a bid to curb the exploitation of our suburbs. The roads are littered with used condoms and there is a reduced quality of life due to noise from the laughing, loud talking and fighting, and a steady succession of noisy customers all night long.

“Our young women feel unsafe knowing that ‘clients’ may be about at any time of the day or night, and we are sick to death of having the prostitutes flaunt themselves to passing traffic in front of our gates.”

Some said they had to ensure their gardens were free of used condoms before allowing their children out to play.

While some residents said police have been seen picking up and dropping off prostitutes, others said officers have been helpful.

The priest at the Fleet Street mosque, who would not be named, said, “Unfortunately, we are facing a major problem regarding prostitution, which affects residents of all religions, races and cultures.

“We have children being exposed to this evil … Worshippers, visitors and residents are solicited by these prostitutes.”

The prostitutes said they were working to support their children and preferred working during the day, as it was safer.

Naleni Atwaru, Ward 33’s councillor said: “I have had petitions signed and handed to SAPS, municipal safety and security, and Brian Zuma (then spokesperson for Msunduzi).”

She said the ward committee has dealt with the issue at length and reported to Speaker Babu Baijoo. “So, in effect, those officials with executive powers have been duly notified … [and] have the capacity to act in order to put the offenders in jail.”

Municipal spokesperson Madeleine Plaatjies said the municipality was unable to act because the prostitutes were not operating from a designated building, which would have enabled prosecution through the town planning scheme. Plaatjies said since the prostitutes were trading on the street, they should be dealt with by the police.

Provincial police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said the residents’ concerns would be investigated. But he said prostitution was a social phenomenon that could not only be addressed by the police.

“Several prostitutes are charged on a weekly basis. It is unfortunate that fines are low and affordable, so it does not deter the offenders,” he said.

Residents say...

- The police are helpful. They respond when we call.

- Prostitutes are becoming younger by the day. Some look to be only 14 or 16 years old, or younger. Whoever is picking them up is a paedophile.

- Political parties and councillors cannot always tell locals that it is the oldest profession. We know that and we want action taken. As our elected representatives, we want to see them taking the matter up with an authority who can address the problem if they cannot.

- Prostitution attracts all kinds of people, including the criminal kind. The men and women who hang around our street corners and around our houses are unknown to us. They have no apparent business in the area but they hang around needlessly. With the spate of thefts we have experienced recently, we are concerned that they may be casing out our homes or passing on information about the movement of residents.

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