Cape Town to clamp down on prostitution during World Cup

2009-12-17 13:48

TOURISTS who use the services of prostitutes during next year’s

World Cup, particularly in Cape Town, could be arrested and end up behind


“We will enforce the law and prosecute both prostitutes and their

Johns (clients),” warned Cape Town’s mayoral safety and security committee boss

JP Smith.

He heads up a special municipal vice squad that has embarked on a

campaign to crack down on prostitution in the city.

But, while Smith’s vice squad unit has been involved in a crackdown

against street girls, massage parlours and escort agencies in recent weeks,

police have made it clear that prostitution, while illegal, was not a priority


And despite calls by activists and some Members of Parliament, for

the decriminalisation of prostitution, using the services of a prostitute, will

remain a criminal offence in South Africa during the World Cup.

Tlali Tlali, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice and

Constitutional Development, warned that the laws against prostitution would be

strictly enforced during the World Cup.

The SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC) earlier this year put forward

four appropriate legal models for adult prostitution, ranging from

criminalisation, to total decriminalisation.

But not even a draft law would be finalised in time for the World

Cup, as written submissions and presentations made by the public are still being

collated by the Law Commission, said researcher Carien Pienaar.

This has led to concern among sex work activists that there was no

way of knowing how authorities will deal with prostitutes during the World


Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) advocacy

programme coordinator Vivienne Lalu said it was “very concerning” that the

government had not yet revealed their plans regarding prostitution during the

World Cup.

“It’s bad because each police station will do their own thing if

there is no clear message from the leadership. We would love to know what will

happen during that period,” said Lalu.

She said it was also important to send out a clear message to

tourists, who would otherwise “unwittingly find themselves in hot water”.

Meanwhile, Smith says Cape Town’s council was merely enforcing

existing by-laws and national legislation, and tourists would be dealt with in

the same way as locals who were caught using the services of prostitutes.

But one escort agency manager, who asked to remain anonymous, said

working girls adapted “very easily” to circumstances, and in the face of recent

raids at parlours and agencies in Cape Town, had taken to hanging out at pubs

and sports bars in search of clients.

Another agency manager dismissed the actions of the city’s vice

squad as merely scoring political points, and added: “There are now more women

on Koeberg Road compare to 20 years ago,” she said.


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