Cape Town - A case involving a 13-year-old girl being sold for sex in the Atlantis area is “just the tip of the iceberg”, councillor and community worker Barbara Rass has said.
Rass, a founding member of the Atlantis Women’s Movement for the Abused and the House of Healing Shelter in the Western Cape, cared for the girl after it was reported that she had been sexually exploited.
The case, which was first exposed by the Daily Voice, involves the girl’s mother and eight other people who are allegedly involved in the sex ring. The girl was sold for sex for as little as R20, the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court has heard.
Rass said she sees girls on the N7 every day wandering aimlessly around.
“This thing is huge. There are [many] more children involved.”
The girl’s mother and stepfather - whose identities are being withheld - and three other people, Maranatha Lotrict, 28, of Frankdale, and Evelina Fortuin, 30, and Denise Muller, 33, both of the Philadelphia informal settlement outside Atlantis, have been arrested. Milnerton police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Daphne Dell said police were working to arrest four other people who had been linked. The four include three people from Mossel Bay and one from Cape Town.
According to court documents, the mother sold her daughter for R100, R50 and R20 and watched while a number of men raped her in a secluded park or bushy area.
The money was allegedly used to buy alcohol.
The child reported the incident to her teacher and police later arrested her mother.
During the mother’s first appearance on November 12, magistrate Zwelindumile Sogwagwa asked the prosecution whether she was mentally stable. The woman was sent to Victoria Hospital for evaluation. A doctor found she did not have psychiatric or psychotic tendencies.
“(The mother) suffers from hypertension… she has no history of psychiatric problems,” the doctor, who evaluated the mother on November 15, said. “However, in answer to the main question, she is not psychiatric or psychotic. She is frail, physically and mentally, and deserves to be treated with kid gloves.”
On Monday, police added Lotrict, Fortuin and Muller to the case. The State alleged the trio helped in the sale of the girl.
One of their clients was allegedly a well-known city doctor. The identities of the remaining suspects will be made known once they appear in court.
The provisional charges that the five face include rape and sexual grooming over a period.
Dell confirmed that more arrests were imminent, but said there was no confirmation that a syndicate was operating in the Atlantis area.
All five are to appear in court again next Friday.
The girl is in a place of safety.