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Durban - Men from uMhlanga Rocks and the Highway area and elsewhere in Durban who pick up prostitutes in the Glenwood area face having their car registrations placed on social network sites.
This is the threat of furious residents of the middle-class suburb who are fed up with the invasion of brazen sex workers.
In certain roads in the suburb, and neighbouring Umbilo, trade in the world’s oldest profession cooks around the clock. Clients – known as “johns” – are often middle-aged, successful-looking and probably have families.
Many appear to travel to Glenwood and Umbilo from uMhlanga and Pinetown.
“We see lots of NUR, ‘larney’ cars and NPN cars, not just ND,” said Heather Rorick, who chairs the Bulwer Community Safety Forum, which is organising a number of pickets this morning in Glenwood and Umbilo to highlight the problem.
It doesn’t surprise Heinz de Boer, DA councillor for uMhlanga. He’s received similar reports about NUR-registered cars from La Mercy and Riverside. He said prostitution was also rife in his uMhlanga-La Lucia constituency but, unlike Glenwood,
“it’s high-end, exclusive escorts that cost a good couple of hundred to thousands of rand.”
His counterpart in Pinetown, Tim Brauteseth, said he was aware that sex workers in his constituency were more demure than those in Glenwood and Umbilo. “Here, they give people a wave. Down there they actually flash at passing motorists,” he said.
He believes properly-zoned red light areas are the best solution. “There, they would need to be monitored and controlled. Sex workers would be registered, screened and medically tested. Outside that area, anyone loitering for sex should face the full force of the law.”
Another option, less preferable to an organised red-light district, would be for the law to come down harder on the “johns”.
In Glenwood itself, Presbyterian minister Derek Potgieter called prostitution “a huge morality issue” and noticed an increase in such activity over the past 18 months, including its extension into daylight hours.
Sometimes Rorick and her forum name and shame “johns” on Facebook.
They also report to companies when they see clients with cars carrying their brandings.
What upsets them bitterly is that with the crime – prostitution is illegal – comes the grime, which they fear is creeping further into residential areas.
They also lament that both sex workers and “johns” in Glenwood and Umbilo are so brazen. “Women cannot even stand at a bus stop without having men stop and say crude things about what they want to do, and ask what they would charge,” said Rorick.
“Passing children are exposed to prostitution daily, witnessing how the prostitutes expose themselves to passing motorists.”
Glenwood-Umbilo councillor Nicole Graham said that while she sympathised with women caught up in the sex trade “it has got to go”.
“It is having negative socio-economic consequences. Lots of businesses are trying to move… it’s killing property prices.”
Glenwood Preparatory School headmaster Louis Arde said if he was the Umbilo police station commander he would “have stamped it out years ago”.
Police had not commented at the time of going to press.
Mike Vorster, the Methodist Bishop of the Natal Coastal District, said his major concern with prostitution was that it was often linked to syndicates and human trafficking.
“A moral outrage is not enough,” he said. “An exit strategy is needed for them, such as alternative employment.
“To just chase them off the street is cosmetic stuff.”
uMhlanga’s De Boer pointed out that this was difficult as prostitution could earn sex workers between R500 and R1 500 a day while work as domestics may earn them as little as R150.
Prostitution in Glenwood and Umbilo appears to be most rife in Che Guevara (formerly Moore) and Clark roads as well as the northern part of Esther Roberts (formerly Frere) Road.
Independent on Saturday