Durban - The wealthy owner of an upmarket escort agency and massage parlour in a Durban suburb is to be investigated by SA Revenue Service and the Assets Forfeiture Unit.
National crime intelligence and members of the Durban Organised Crime Unit swooped on the establishment in Morningside at the weekend.
The raid was prompted by a tip-off to Crime Stop that the enterprise was allegedly linked to an international child trafficking syndicate and prostitution
It was alleged that girls under the age of 16 were being held against their will at the property, KZN police spokesman, Colonel Vincent Mdunge, said.
The girls, who were groomed as prostitutes, were allegedly sold to international syndicates, he said.
No children were found at the brothel in the weekend raid.
“This woman is raking in millions according to the details recorded in the books. Clients are charged a minimum of R500 per hour for sex.”
He said she drove a luxury car and lived a very extravagant life. “In fact, from the records, the establishment had (taken) more than R13 000 from 6pm to 9pm on the day of the raid.”
No evidence of child trafficking was found on the day, but investigations were continuing.
“The owner must not think she has got away with murder. Our investigations are ongoing. Early next week, we will be engaging with the South African Revenue Service and the Asset Forfeiture Unit to investigate exactly how she acquired her wealth.
“We need to find out if it was through the proceeds of crime.”
The swoop came after three months of undercover surveillance by national crime intelligence, Mdunge said.
During the raid, rock cocaine, concealed in ornamental vases, and plastic bags filled with condoms, were seized by police as evidence.
Two women, caught in a police trap selling sex to undercover agents, were charged with prostitution.
They each paid a R1 000 admission of guilt fine.
No-one was charged for possession of drugs, as it had been found on the premises.
The owner and manager on duty claimed they had no knowledge of the drugs, police said.
The owner claimed the drugs could have been planted or stashed by a client.
Mdunge said the owner of the “very extravagant” escort agency and massage parlour was an extremely wealthy Durban woman who owned two houses in the area.
Both were being used to run her “businesses”, Mdunge said.
He said the woman had two licences – one for an escort agency and the other for a massage parlour.
“This is a very smart woman. We were monitoring her premises for three months. When there was enough evidence to suggest illegal activity, police swooped.” He said two undercover agents, posing as potential customers, had paid the women R500 each for an hour of sex.
“The women took the money, which was marked. They were then arrested and the entire house was raided and searched.”
He said the owner produced her licences and denied being involved in any illegal or criminal activities.
“While she may have had the licences, it was clear from what we found and saw, that negotiations for other illegal services, were also being conducted.”
The fact that two of the women had pleaded guilty to prostitution, would also be used as evidence against the woman, Mdunge said.
He said 50 hard-cover notebooks containing the names, addresses and telephone numbers of patrons who frequented the establishment were also seized by police.
Investigation were under way to verify if the identities of the clients were real or fake, Mdunge said.
On the night of the raid, several young women between the ages of 18 and 25 were on the premises, Mdunge said.
He said the women, who were alleged to be prostitutes, were all local and from various race groups.
“It is quite clear that we live in a contaminated world.
“Our investigations around this establishment will be intensifying. All illicit behaviour will be rooted out.
“Plans are also afoot to cancel the licences of the facility. It is an upmarket, top of the range facility that is being frequented by wealthy clients.
“It is also in the heart of a residential area. We intend to put an end to this business.”
A source close to the investigation said it was evident that the woman was supported by several influential people in the province.
“Her books appear to be in order. The administration is impeccable. It is clear that she employs people to do this.”
The source said the allegations of child trafficking were a priority and police were investigating whether the women owned other establishments in the province or the country.
“Child trafficking and prostitution are rife in KZN. The upmarket suburbs of uMhlanga, Berea and Morningside appear to be the operating grounds for these establishments.”
He said they were also investigating claims that an international syndicate was behind the child trafficking.