Cape sex trade in a vice gripComment on this story
Cape Town - A Table View businessman is arrested following a high-speed car chase with city law enforcement officers after they spotted the man attempting to solicit sex from a heavily pregnant woman.
The city’s vice squad is out on patrol on Saturday night and the Cape Argus has joined them.
When the vehicle is eventually brought to a stop it emerges that the driver, originally from China, has been drinking and is nearly double the legal limit.
Officers find a stack of money – between R60 000 and R80 000 – in his panel van, stored in compartments under the seat.
He tells them he has had “many back accounts” but does not want to pay the charges. He owns three liquor stores in Cape Town.
He tells officers that his brother-in-law had wanted to invite the woman for a “party”.
However, he claims he mistook the cops for robbers and sped away.
“I have been robbed here in Cape Town before,” he tells officers. He admits that he has been drinking.
The woman he was soliciting is well-known to the vice squad. At 24, she is six months pregnant.
From Mitchells Plain, she tells an officer she is expecting a boy and will stop working closer to her due date.
Police first met her when she was working in Bellville.
It was here that the woman injured her ankle after jumping from a third-floor apartment during an argument with the man she worked for.
Officers ask her if she is still drinking. She admits she has just smoked dagga and that she drinks “now and then”.
She is fined and encouraged to go home and rest. But less than an hour later the woman is spotted leaning into the white panel van, belonging to the Table View businessman… and the chase ensues.
Members of the vice squad profile women on the streets. They issue fines in some cases and help them into a safe house if they are willing.
Officers say that many women are lured to Cape Town with promises of high-paying jobs.
However when they arrive, the women are forced to take drugs and work the streets.
Some are given heroin before the night starts and when they return. They are warned that if they try to escape their families will be harmed.
JP Smith, the mayoral committee member for safety and security said there had been a case where a suspected human trafficker used a woman’s one-year-old child as leverage.
The man looked after the child while she worked and she would only be able to see her child when she had brought in enough money.
The woman appealed for help, and she and her child were placed in a safe house.
“The manipulation varies, whether it’s physical, drugs or holding personal property,” said Smith.
On Saturday night, law enforcement officers and Smith visited alleged brothels in Durbanville, the city centre and patrolled the street prostitution trade in Brooklyn.
During an operation last week, they profiled more than 60 sex workers in Brooklyn on one night.
Also in Brooklyn, the vice squad met a young girl from Worcester who had just turned 19.
She told them the bruise on her face was from a fight with another girl the previous night.
The girl said all her clothes had been taken away, but said she was “satisfied” with her circumstances.
Initially she refused to tell officers where she was living.
“I want to know if your mother knows what you are doing. You are a pretty, young girl,” the officer tells her.
However, she says she cannot remember her family’s phone numbers nor the address she lives at.
Fearing being locked up, the young girl finally gives officers the address. She directs officers to a small flat in Brooklyn. But the man living there denies ever having met the girl.
She begs the man to tell the officers that she has been sleeping there. “Why are doing this? Why are you lying like this?” she says.
A large box of condoms is found in the man’s closet. His bedroom is strewn with women’s clothes and shoes. These, he says, belong to this girlfriend.
An officer explained that in many cases the woman have to share their clothes with each other. Their own belongings are often taken away.
The vice squad then heads to the city centre to a suspected brothel in Bree Street.
It has applied for a business licence to operate as a massage parlour.
Inside there are several rooms, each with a bed and shower.
Officers ask one man what he is doing there. He explains that as a fashion designer, he has created the clothing that all of the women are wearing.
Smith tells a bouncer at the premises he believes the establishment is a brothel.
The man, who is not from SA, asks Smith how one can apply to operate a brothel in this country, and he is told that this is illegal.
In Durbanville, another business owner was fined for not having a licence to operate a massage parlour. When the vice squad arrived, gaining entry was not easy.
The electric gate was locked, but the lounge was clearly visible through a flimsy pink curtain.
When the women inside the house heard that police were at the door, they rushed to get dressed.
Officers say that women of all ages work in brothels.
The youngest are in their early teens and are taken to a social development office. However, one officer tells of a 62-year-old woman working in Sea Point.
She says she has to work because she cannot survive off her monthly pension alone.