Durban - The manageress-turned-State-witness at the Inn Town Lodge, which it is alleged was operating as a brothel, said she was aware of drugging and human trafficking at the hotel, but did not make a police report.
Testifying in the trial within a trail being heard before Durban Regional Court magistrate Siphiwe Hlophe on Tuesday, Veena Budhram said she had tried to “chase” Sandile Zweni, the main accused in the matter, from the hotel several times.
“I chased Sandile out many times for the same problem of selling girls and drugs. I chased him away because the police were always coming up and down,” Budhram said during cross-examination by Anand Nepaul, acting for Durban doctor Genchen Rugnath and his wife, Ravina.
The couple are on trial, with co-accused Zweni, Nduduzo Dlamini and Bhabha Dubazani, on 156 charges including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.
The Rugnaths own the Inn Town Lodge, in the Durban Point area, where some of the alleged offences took place.
All have pleaded not guilty.
In September, the matter entered into a trial within a trial, to determine the admissibility of the search warrant executed by the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Cyril Freese, on February 16 last year.
The defence is arguing that the affidavit was created after the warrant was issued. They claim there are discrepancies between the commissioned statement and the affidavit presented to the chief magistrate to authorise the warrant.
Budhram on Tuesday said she received a call from Freese, who told her he needed to search the hotel and asked that she go there immediately.
She said she pulled over on the side of the road and called Dr Rugnath, whom she refer-red to as “Robin”, to tell him about the call from Freese. She said she took all instructions from the doctor. “I told him they wanted to search the place and he said they could,” she told the court.
Budhram said when she arrived at Inn Town, the search was almost complete. After the search, Budhram was arrested and charged.
The court also heard she made two statements to police. A second statement was made after the charges against her were withdrawn, she said.