BnB owner fined for allowing prostitutes to rent rooms

2018-02-22 13:55

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Local bed and breakfast owner Peter John Dick has been fined R250 000 for keeping a brothel at his CBD property.

This comes after a plea agreement was reached in the Pietermaritzburg regional court this week. Dick pleaded guilty as representative of the company Prince Bed and Breakfast, which operates the business under the name Princess Gate.

In terms of the plea agreement R100 000 of the fine has been suspended for five years on condition that the establishment is not convicted of contravening a section of the Sexual Offences Act during that time.

The plea stated that when the company (which had two members at the time) bought the property, known as Princess Gate, on Prince Alfred Street, the intention was to run a bed and breakfast establishment there.

However, in 2011 the members made a decision to alter the manner in which it was managed because the demographics in the area had changed.

Business people were reluctant to hire rooms and stay for a short period.

In order to keep the business going the members decided to rent out the suites by the hour, day or week.

Business then picked up.

Most of the rooms became occupied by single women who stayed on the premises for short periods of a day or two or even a week. Those renting rooms always paid in cash and the company was able to keep the establishment running and to preserve the jobs of its staff members.

“After a while, it became evident that the single women who were renting the rooms were in fact prostitutes and were conducting their business from the establishment,” it was stated in the written plea.

The members permitted this. Had they not, it would have been necessary to wind up the CC or face liquidation.

Due to the change in how the business operated, all its liabilities were being met.

“The accused [the company], members and staff knew that the rooms were being used by individual prostitutes for varying lengths of time and allowed the rooms to be let to these individuals ... had knowledge that these rooms were being used by prostitutes for the purposes of prostitution and that such use was unlawful,” the document stated.

The company also pleaded guilty to carrying on a business without a licence. For this, it was cautioned and discharged.

The plea stated the members were aware that any accommodation establishment or bed and breakfast required a specific licence from the municipality but no application was made.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said Dick was arrested in September 2015 when police embarked on an operation to close down brothels. About 15 were shut down. The police cluster commander, General Phumelele Makoba, applauded the team that dealt with the case, which was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Sunil Maharaj.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court case

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