An account of life as a prostitute

Durban prostitutes who spoke to the Daily News say they are often persecuted by members of the police force.

Charlotte is a call girl who operates from an agency in Morningside. She is adamant in her view that many South African police members are corrupt, and Durban was no exception.

"I've never heard of a single town in SA where the cops are clean and I've met prostitutes from big cities and small towns across the country," she insisted.

"I've often been hassled and insulted by the police, and I'm white. You should see how the black girls, particularly the streetwalkers, are treated. They're knocked around, raped and thrown out of vehicles.

"Who do they have to turn to when the cops are the culprits?"

According to Charlotte, many prostitutes are arrested simply because they have a lot of condoms in their handbags.

"Some of the girls I know say they'd rather get Aids than get bust," she said. "They've got kids to look after and their pimps get really aggressive if they don't earn. They can't afford to go to jail even if it's just overnight.

"When you're arrested, you usually spend the night in jail and go to court in the morning," she continued. "You pay an admission of guilt fine, and then you're released. Agencies like mine generally put up the money for the fine."

Maria is a prostitute who operates from a house in Durban North. She said prosecuting sex workers contradicts the constitution.

"Policing prostitution is a violation of our human rights. It's out-and-out persecution, and there's absolutely no point to it. It also costs the taxpayer a fortune. The cops would be better occupied attending to real crime," she asserted.

Stings

Nicole, an agency call girl working in Pinetown, said: "Entrapment is rife. Police set up 'stings,' and disguise themselves as customers.

"I was once told that they have quotas to fill each day, and get so many points for arresting a street girl, so many for a high class hooker. They often threaten the girls. 'You will plead guilty in court tomorrow,' they'll say, 'because we know where your family lives.'

"Lots of agencies and parlours bribe the cops to keep them off our backs."

Nicole was arrested several years ago in a 'sting' operation.

"I went on a call-out to meet a client in a hotel room," She explained. "There's always a risk, so you keep the whole transaction neutral, and don't refer directly to the sex act.

"I told him how much it would be for a 'massage,' and he put the money on the table. I was wearing underwear. Before I knew it he had ripped off my bra, flung me down on the bed, and thrown a handful of condoms down next to me. Then his fellow cops burst in to make the arrest."

Shakti, a street prostitute, said: "There are good cops and bad cops. You know which ones to watch out for; which will threaten to arrest you if you don't give them your money, or demand free sex.

"There are others who are more humane. They won't immediately arrest you for loitering with intent, but just ask you to move along."

Superintendent Vincent Mdunge of the Provincial SAPS clarified Durban's position on prostitution.

He denied that there were significant problems with police corruption.

Asked whether policemen have been found taking advantage of the services of prostitutes, Superintendent Mdunge responded:

"Our members sign a code of conduct. Any violations are punishable by disciplinary action. Our officers are disciplined, and we have faith in them."





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