Durban - A doctor, his wife, and three men on Monday pleaded not guilty in the Durban Regional Court to dealing in cocaine, human trafficking, and keeping a brothel.
The five, who were arrested last February, face a total of 156 charges, including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.
They allegedly ran a brothel where children as young as 12 were kept.
Sandile Patrick Zweni, 36, Nonduzo Dlamini, 24, Bhabha Dubazini, 29, Dr Genchen Ragnath, 58, and his 47-year old wife Ravina, could face life imprisonment if convicted by magistrate Simphiwe Hlophe.
Zweni's lawyer Mbuyiselo July told the court his client admitted to hiring prostitutes who loitered outside the Inntown Holiday Lodge in Durban's Point area, as well as smoking dagga on occasion with Dlamini and Dubazini.
However, he denied ever knowing the Ragnaths, described by the State as the masterminds behind the enterprise.
Zweni, Dlamini, and Dubazana were arrested along with a fourth person in February last year.
At the time of their arrest, police said about 24 women were rescued from a building. Eight of them were minors.
The charge sheet, which was read to the court, refers to 22 girls.
Some of the girls were allegedly as young as 12 and under the influence of drugs.
The trial continues on Tuesday. - Sapa