Alleged brothels shut down

2015-07-02 06:00
                                                                                                                            PHOTO: IAN CARBUTTPietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese (left) and Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander   Majo

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTTPietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese (left) and Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander Majo

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PIETERMARITZBURG police declared war on alleged brothels in the city, targeting more than 15 premises they say were being used for illegal sexual activity.

After numerous complaints of prostitution by residents, a special task team were put together to investigate various motels and “so-called” bed and breakfasts where ­prostitution was said to be taking place.

Since the team was established almost two months ago, they have served notices on more than 15 properties, shutting down five major­ alleged brothels in the process, including Je Taime on the corner of Pietermaritz and Peter Kerchhoff streets, Dreamgirls, renamed Thirsty’s on Hoosen Haffejee Street, and a house at 216 Mayor­’s Walk where many prostitutes of foreign nationality were said to have been working.

According to PMB police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese, the Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni ­established the task team six weeks ago and appointed PMB ­detective Lieutenant-Colonel Sunil ­Maharaj to head the project.

The team comprises PMB police detectives, assisted by a Durban team of detectives and Durban Crime Intelligence members.

“We can confirm that a total of five brothels and unlicensed Bandamp;Bs were closed. Fifteen properties have been ­targeted so far and we are in the process of clearing them out.

“We are aiming at getting the ­properties forfeited to the state for useful purposes,” Ngobese said.

Undercover agents were used to enter the buildings and gather evidence to ensure that they are brothels­.

“We are targeting the building owners first. With regards to the alleged ­prostitutes, the matter will be forwarded to the DPP who will determine whether they must be charged or used as ­witnesses,” Ngobese said.

According to a source close to the ­investigation, the South African ­prostitutes come from Richards Bay, Durban and Newcastle.

The source said it is believed that in some cases those who run the brothels pay websites like Red Velvet­, an online adult services platform, to promote the women on the site.

The owners of the properties in most cases were unaware that their homes were being used as illegal Bandamp;Bs and brothels after they had rented them out.

Owner of the property at 216 Mayor’s Walk, Ravi Sewmangal, said he had rented his property out to a tenant and had no idea there was any criminal activity ­taking place.

“When the police brought it to my attention I confronted my tenant and asked him to leave the building. I think it is unfair for the police to pass the buck on to the home owners,” Sewmangal said.

A manager of two of the properties that were shut down said he was renting the buildings, which were both well known brothels before. He asked not to be named.

Ngobese said the public have commended the police for a job well done and are assisting with pointing out other properties

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