Businesses fed up with ‘filthy’ area

2014-02-05 00:00

A BUSINESSPERSON in Glenwood says he is prepared to relocate his business if the area’s rampant prostitution does not come to an end.

Niresh Maharaj, whose business is on Crart Road, said he is at his “wits’ end” and ready to close shop because of the “filth in the area”.

“People are having sex in the servitude next door almost every day. I find condoms on the ground and women, working as prostitutes, urinate and defecate in the same road.

“There is a house on this street that is continually being raided by the police for drugs, yet the dealers continue to operate. I don’t know how one can operate a business here and stay focused,” he said.

Falling under the Berea area and forming a core part of the city’s urban regeneration programme, Glenwood has been beset by an influx of prostitutes for more than a decade.

“Every day I watch from my office as prostitutes solicit customers. It is all becoming too much and if there is no drastic change any time soon, I will move my business elsewhere. I don’t know what else I am expected to do,” said Maharaj.

His sentiments are shared by Heather Rorick, chairperson of the Bulwer Community Safety Forum.

Rorick said while the community has made every effort in recent months to chase out the prostitutes, the influx of the women into the area continues unabated.

“Businesses are closing down and people are trying to sell. The prostitution is spreading up to Ridge Road and down to Umbilo Road. Sex workers in Glenwood are becoming younger, more brazen and fearless of the police.

“We want to make it uncomfortable for sex workers to operate in Glenwood, and we want to shut down the brothels operating in the area. This industry is not wanted in our neighbourhood or by our businesses,” said Rorick.

But the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), which supports sex work and its decriminalisation, says the Glenwood community is “antagonistic” in its attempt to eject prostitutes from the area.

It claimed that residents were assaulting the prostitutes and “do not respect their human rights”.

Rorick denied the accusations, saying the forum and community watch do not advocate any form of violence.

“However, we have a right to publicly voice our displeasure at the presence of prostitutes. It has had a toll on our community and our businesses. People are getting angry,” she said.

The forum runs several nightly community-driven patrols and is planning to host vigils this year.

SWEAT director Sally Shackleton called for “a more sustainable approach” to the issue. “We need to consider the vulnerability of sex workers,” she said.

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