Durban girl locked in room until addicted to cocaine

By Drum Digital
10 September 2013

An 18-year old girl told the Durban Regional Court on Thursday that she was kept locked up in a room until she became addicted to crack cocaine.

The girl, who cannot be named because she was a minor at the time, said she then prostituted herself to feed her new habit.

The girl, who turned 18 on Friday, was giving evidence in the case of a doctor, his wife and three other people facing charges of human trafficking, racketeering and keeping a brothel.

Dr Genchen Rugnath, his wife Ravina, Sandile Patrick Zweni, 36, Nonduzo Dlamini, 24, and Bhabha Dubazini have pleaded not guilty to 156 charges, including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.

Rugnath owns the Inn Town Lodge, where some of the alleged offences took place.

The girl told the court that when she and a friend ran out of money to get home from Durban's Workshop Shopping Centre in 2010, a woman identified as Mbali, approached them and promised to help them get money.

The two girls were taken to the Victoria Lodge, where they were kept for four days.

She told the court she did not smoke any of the crack cocaine offered to her by Zweni the first day, but realised she would get out of the lodge only once she had taken the drugs.

"According to my knowledge, he instructed his runners that we should not go out until we got addicted to these drugs. It does not take long to get addicted," she said.

She testified that her standard price for sex was R50, but that her first client was charged R100.

When asked by State prosecutor Yuri Gangai why this was, she replied: "Because I was still new. I was supposed to sit with him, smoke [drugs] with him and to sleep with him."

She was with the man for four days in the hotel room.

Her payment was more drugs, which she received from Zweni.

She identified Dlamini and Dubazini as being "runners" for Zweni.

After being held at Victoria Lodge, she worked at various locations during the next year, including Inn Town Lodge.

She said she had not used drugs before being accosted by Mbali and being held at the Victoria Lodge.

"Doing it was never easy. Taking drugs and then having someone holding you is not nice at all," she said.

The girl, who continuously fidgeted while in the witness stand, said people in the neighbourhood would ask her why she was a prostitute.

"Some people would ask us why we are doing this. That would affect us.

"You did not know how to reply. You would want to reach out to this person, but you could not give up the drugs."

-Sapa

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