Alleged brothels shut down

2015-07-01 09:30
Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese (left) and Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni shut the gates on one of the alleged illegal brothels operating in the city yesterday.

Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese (left) and Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni shut the gates on one of the alleged illegal brothels operating in the city yesterday. (Ian Carbutt)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

PIETERMARITZBURG police have 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 in the city, a special task team were put together to investigate various motels and “so-called” bed and breakfasts (Bandamp;Bs) where ­prostitution was said to be taking place.

Since the team were 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 Street and Peter Kerchhoff Steet, Dreamgirls ,which was renamed as 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 Pietermaritzburg police spokesperson Mthokozisi Ngobese, the Pietermaritzburg Cluster Commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni ­established the task team six weeks ago and appointed Pietermaritzburg ­detective Lieutenant-Colonel Sunil ­Maharaj as the head of the project. The team comprises Pietermaritzburg police detectives who are assisted by a Durban team of detectives as well as Durban Crime Intelligence members.

“We can confirm that a total of five brothels and unlicensed BnBs 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 targets are these so-called Bandamp;Bs that are housing prostitutes and ­facilitating illegal sexual activities,” the source said.

Speaking to The Witness yesterday, a prostitute who worked at one of the brothels that is now closed said she has nowhere to live now.

“We would rent rooms for R300 a week and we would live there. We also had to give [the manager of the brothel] a cut of the money we made every month,” she said.

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.

“When we took over last year we only kept the bars open and leased out the rooms at R70 per hour.

“It was not viable and very difficult to monitor or regulate who was using the rooms,” the man said.

“If you came with your wife to hire a room for a few hours how can I determine if she is not a prostitute and vice versa.”

The man said he has now had to close both businesses as it would be ­impossible to pay rent with money only from the bar after police shut down their “hospitality service”.

Ngobese said the public have commended the police for a job well done and are assisting with pointing out other properties. “The Cluster Commander has ­commended the members for a ­successful operation,” Ngobese said

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.