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Durban - As many as 35 prostitutes were operating from a hotel owned by a doctor in Durban's notorious Point Road area, the Durban Regional Court heard on Wednesday.
One of them testified that all the girls were working for Sandile Patrick Zweni, who is accused of operating a prostitution ring from the Inn Town Lodge.
She said she stayed at Inn Town Lodge for three years.
“We were all prostitutes. All 30, 35 of us went to Inn Town Lodge. We stayed at the bottom floors next door to each other,” she said.
The woman, who cannot be named, said the prostitutes had been moved from a building known as Adrinic House to the hotel owned by Dr Genchen Rugnath.
She was giving evidence in the trial of Rugnath, his wife Ravina, as well as 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.
Girls as young as 12 allegedly worked as prostitutes from Inn Town Lodge.
The witness named Dlamini and Dubazini as being “runners” for Zweni, making sure that the girls were out on the streets soliciting clients.
She said the very same day the women moved into Inn Town Lodge they started working.
She said they were not required to work during the day, but at night Zweni would insist the girls were out soliciting clients.
“At night we all got wake up and then started to work,” she said.
She described “wake up” as “the cocaine they would give us to arouse our feelings”.
After each client she would return to the hotel to get some more cocaine.
She said she lived at the Rugnath's hotel for about three years and Zweni was at the hotel every day.
“He would come every day, because it was his business. We wouldn't wake up without him being there. He is the one that cuts the crack cocaine.”
Earlier in the day, another prostitute, who previously testified that she started working for Zweni when she was 13 years old, told the court that her money would be stolen while she was sleeping.
She said she had suffered cigarette burns at the hands of one of Zweni's runners.
“If I took off all my clothes you would see all the burn marks,” she said.
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.