Drugs turned teen to prostitution

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Durban -A young woman told the Durban Regional Court on Thursday she was lured into prostitution in 2010 when she was 14.

She was given drugs for two months until she was addicted enough to work on the streets.

The woman, who cannot be named, admitted on Thursday she had not tried to flee the Victoria Lodge in Durban from where she worked because “everyone was happy and we were getting free clothes”.

Her first customer was “some coloured guy”.

She was giving evidence in the trial of Dr Genchen Rugnath, who is charged along with his wife Ravina, Sandile Patrick Zweni, Nonduzo Dlamini, and Bhabha Dubazini.

They have all pleaded not guilty to 156 charges, including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.

Zweni is accused of operating a prostitution ring from the Inn Town Lodge.

“They just give you drugs until you are hooked and then you go out on the streets. Accused number one 1/8Zweni 3/8 was the one who introduced me to the coloured guy.”

Asked by Zweni's lawyer, Mbulelo July, how she, as a 14-year-old, knew what to do, she said: “They told me I was supposed to sleep with him 1/8the coloured guy 3/8 and he would pay me R100. Accused number one told me.”

She said on one occasion she and two of her co-workers were picked up by a group of men who plied them with drinks.

“We ended up in Pretoria. To this day, I do not know how we ended up in Pretoria.”

She said she was told to leave the apartment where she found herself and that “some coloured ladies” had given her money to get a bus back to Durban.

July questioned her honesty and “selective memory”.

The girl retorted: “I have let this all go. I don't want to remember it. I would rather forget it.”

She told the court when she was lured to the Victoria Lodge, Zweni took her cellphone and a man called Shorty watched the door.

When she moved to Inn Town Lodge she managed to get another cellphone, but she could not remember how.

She told the court Zweni forced himself on her. She admitted she never told him to stop, “but he could see that I did not want to”.

July said his client would deny ever having sex with her.

On Wednesday, the court heard that as many as 35 prostitutes operated from Inn Town Lodge and they all worked for Zweni.

The girl said she stayed at Inn Town Lodge for three years.

Girls as young as 12 allegedly worked as prostitutes from the Inn Town Lodge, which Rugnath owns.

The witness named Dlamini and Dubazini as being “runners” for Zweni, making sure the girls were out on the streets soliciting clients.

Rugnath's hotel manageress Veena Budhram was initially charged in the matter, but has since turned State witness.

Rugnath claims he knew nothing about prostitution at the hotel, located in Durban's Point Road area - known for its red-light activities - and left the running of his hotel to Budhram.

The woman is the second prostitute to testify in the trial.


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