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Durban - Days after she moved into the Inntown Holiday Lodge, a 24-year-old woman was standing on a street corner “selling her body”, the Durban Regional Court heard on Thursday.
The woman, who said she had been raped and who therefore may not be identified, took the stand as the second witness in the trial of Genchen and Ravina Rugnath, Sandile Zweni, Nonduzo Dlamini and Bhabha Dubazane.
The five face more than 150 charges, including human trafficking and racketeering, relating to the alleged keeping of a brothel at the lodge.
The witness moved in with a friend at the lodge in 2010. She noticed that most of the people living there were women and found condoms in a cupboard in the passage, she said in her evidence-in-chief.
She met Zweni on her second day at the lodge. He asked if she knew “how the people in that place lived” and instructed another woman to tell her “the rules”.
The witness wept when asked to recall the instructions she received on her third day at the lodge.
She had thought of refusing to prostitute herself,
“but where else was I going to sleep?”
Accompanied by a number of other women from the lodge, she went to Durban North, where they stood on a street corner. A man approached her and she had sex with him. He paid her R100.
Later another man approached her. “I refused to sleep with him without a condom… I was struggling with him, pushing him,” she said, adding that he then raped her.
“I told myself I would never do that again.”
The witness remained at the lodge for a month. She would steal money and pretend she had earned it through prostitution.
She also said that, in line with a friend’s request, she would buy “rocks” (crack cocaine) from a man, also named Sandile, who was a runner for Zweni. During cross-examination, she conceded that she had not bought drugs directly from the accused.
She knew Dlamini and Dubazane “by sight”, but did not know the Rugnaths.
The trial continues.