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Two young women from Cape Town claim they were lured to the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast with promises of jobs at a hotel – but no sooner had they climbed off the bus, than they were forced into prostitution to “pay back” their tickets.
And now the man they accuse of being the “big boss”, Veeran Palan, will be spending many more months in custody after Durban High Court Judge Trevor Gorven turned down his appeal against a decision by a Port Shepstone magistrate to refuse him bail.
Palan was arrested earlier this year along with his girlfriend, Edwina “Bonny” Norris, charged with human trafficking and other offences relating to prostitution and brothel keeping, charges they both deny.
He claims his only crime was a “noble one” of going to the police station to check on the two women who were friends of his girlfriend and who, he had heard, had been arrested following a disturbance at a bar.
“I did not know them previously and only saw them for the first time when I fetched them from the bus station at the request of Norris.
“When I went to the police station, I was arrested.”
But the investigating officer tells a different story.
In an affidavit which formed part of the papers before Judge Gorven on Monday, Warrant Officer Alan Horne of the Port Shepstone organised crime unit, said that one of the women, *Candy, who is 27, was offered employment as a cleaner at a hotel in Margate by Norris.
She alleges she also spoke to “the boss” who even sent her photos of the hotel which she checked out and confirmed existed before agreeing to take the job.
The other woman, *Sam was also offered a job “in Durban” as a waitress.
She and Candy travelled together on the Greyhound, arriving in Port Shepstone – which Sam thought was Durban – on Friday, July 19 this year.
They were taken to a house in Oslo Beach where they were introduced to “the Boss, Vees”, and a Chinese woman. They were told they now had to work as prostitutes to pay back the money invested in their travel arrangements and they had to start that weekend “because it was busy”.
Horne said the two women alleged that the following day they were forced to change into clothing and underwear bought for them and stand in a line for clients.
Sam was chosen by a man who paid R350 for half an hour of sex. She was then forced to stand in line again and was chosen again. But she told the man that she did not want to do that type of work and no sex took place.
Later that night they were taken to a local “country lodge” to a stag party where again, men got to choose who they wanted to have sex with. They were both chosen but again, they indicated they were not willing and nothing happened.
“Sam described how some of the men were arrogant, rude and aggressive and physically handled the other girls,” he said.
The following day, back at Oslo Beach, Candy was chosen again by a man but, when she “reported her predicament to him”, he left her alone.
“Then between 3am and 4am they were awoken and told more clients were arriving. Vees threatened them and screamed at them to get dressed,” Horne said.
Candy was chosen by a 17-year-old who paid R400 for sex with him and “insisted he had paid for her services”.
“Candy told Vees she cannot do this work anymore and Sam, who was sick, was crying continuously. Vees shouted at her and said she owed him money and his son had booked her.”
Horne said the two women had managed to get a message to a relative who alerted the police who fetched them from a pub that same day. Palan and Norris were arrested when they came to the police station.
They will appear in court again in Port Shepstone on November 29.
*Not their real names.