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Durban - In an unexpected turn of events, the woman who said last week that she was “forced” into prostitution after moving into the Inntown Lodge in Durban said on Monday that that was a lie.
She had never even lived at the lodge, she told the Durban Regional Court on Monday.
The 27-year-old mother of one was expected to be one of the State’s key witnesses in its case against Sandile Zweni, Nduduzo Dlamini, Bhabha Dubazane and Genchen and Ravina Rugnath.
They face more than 150 charges, including racketeering and human trafficking and charges relating to the keeping of a brothel at the lodge. This witness was the complainant in at least eight of these charges.
Originally, she told the court she had lived in the lodge for a month in 2010. She said that during this time Zweni had coerced her into working as a prostitute and she was raped.
But on Monday she said this was untrue.
Zweni had physically assaulted her and abused another woman she knew, she said.
She believed it would be “impossible” to get him arrested (she previously gave evidence that Zweni was friends with police officers) so she and the other woman had made up a number of claims against him, she said.
However, she maintained there were elements of truth to her story.
“I know the difference between the truth and a lie; I just heard it was impossible to get him arrested,” the woman said.
The National Prosecuting Authority would consider bringing criminal charges against the witness, spokeswoman Natasha Ramkisson said.
Late on Monday, the State’s third witness took the stand, but advocate Yuri Gangai made an application that she be allowed to give evidence in camera and that the media not be allowed in court.
While the 18-year-old woman turned her face and sobbed into a tissue, Gangai explained that she would give evidence concerning “indecent acts”.
For the Rugnaths, attorney Anand Nepaul and advocate Jay Naidoo both objected, but magistrate Simphiwe Hlophe granted the application, saying few sexual crimes were reported to police and it was the court’s duty to protect the victims.