THE underground world of the sex work industry pulls the focus in this week’s episode of Special Assignment, on SABC3 at 9pm today.
“One of sex workers’ worst enemies are seemingly the men and women in uniform. In this episode we put the conduct of police under the spotlight,” says a spokesman for the popular series.
In this episode, titled Removing the Stigma, sex workers tell of being picked up on the streets at night, harassed, arbitrarily detained and in some instances assaulted by members of the SAPS, adds the spokesman.
“Despite the dangers involved in the trade and the social stigma attached to it, many sex workers say the high unemployment rates have forced them into the industry to be able to provide for their families, especially children.
“However, in South Africa sex work is a punishable offence under the Sexual Offences Act.”
The programme looks at the questionable conduct of police as they try to enforce compliance with this legislation that gender advocates call outdated.
“Gender activists say the current legal framework simply heightens the stigma around the trade and gives police the green light to act with impunity.
“In one incident in Rustenburg, in North West, a sex worker known as Lerato allegedly died last year in September while in police custody.
“She was reportedly assaulted, thrown in the back of a police van with other sex workers, pepper-sprayed and left behind overnight.”
The spokesman adds: “It’s believed she died inside the van. No charges were ever brought against the other sex workers who were detained with Lerato.
“The allegations have been strongly denied by police who described them as malicious rumours aimed at denting the image of the SAPS.
“Witnesses are afraid to come forward, citing further harassment and possible arrest.
“Lerato’s body was never found and police say there are no records of her death. She was also never seen again and her fellow sex workers and gender advocates suspect a police cover-up.
“In this episode, produced by Amos Phago, we look at challenges faced by sex workers, the legal framework currently regulating the sector and alleged police brutality carried out against sex workers.”
On a lighter note… a new show, Second Generation Wayans, is lined up to premiere on BET International on Top TV (channel 150) at 9.30pm next Tuesday.
Starring Damien Dante Wayans, Craig Wayans, George O Gore and Tatyana Ali, the show highlights the good, the funny and the ugly as Wayans nephews Damien Dante and Craig emerge from the long shadows cast by the global fame of their funny uncles to carve out their own paths to stardom in Hollywood.
Joining the duo on this ride is friend and business partner Gore and their office assistant Maya (played by Ali).
It’s nearly 20 years since the original The Wayans Bros series first aired in the US and helped transform Shawn and Marlon Wayans into comedy legends.
Both of the original cast members feature in Second Generation Wayans as special guests alongside Kevin Hart, Regina Hall, DeRay Davis, Gabourey Sidibe, Erik Estrada, Terry Crews, LeToya Luckett, Keith Robinson and Affion Crockett, among others.
“The Wayans family name is synonymous with comedy, and you’ll indulge in plenty of laughter,” says a spokesman.