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From foot fetishes to undressing - how legal is your OnlyFans account in South Africa?

One OnlyFans entertainer says she has a million dollars sitting in her bank account. Picture: Theolin Tembo

One OnlyFans entertainer says she has a million dollars sitting in her bank account. Picture: Theolin Tembo

Published Jul 27, 2022

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Durban - OnlyFans, which is giving more visibility to a certain type of sex work, has become a mainstream way for people to make money.

The platform is full of people of all persuasions trying to make a buck in adult entertainment by satisfying watchers’ needs, ranging from those who have foot fetishes to those who are willing to pay women to wear the outfit they choose for them for the day.

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And make money, these content creators do. One OnlyFans entertainer says she has a million dollars sitting in her bank account.

Even local actor SK Khoza joined adult entertainment platform OnlyFans after a video of him performing sexual acts was leaked and went viral.

“Just subscribe once, no need to steal my eish,” wrote Khoza on Instagram.

The line is very grey as to whether OnlyFans constitutes sex work, which in South Africa is still illegal, despite moves by NGOs such as Sonke Gender Justice and Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) to change that with slogans such as ‘sex work is work’.

Phelelani Dladla, a candidate attorney from Ryan D Lewis Inc Attorneys, says, according to the Sexual Offences Act 23 of 1957 as well as the Criminal Law (sexual offences and related matters) Amendment Act 2007, prostitution and related activities are prohibited by law.

Dladla adds that Section 20 of the Sexual Offences Act states that any person who lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution shall be guilty of an offence.

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He cited the case of Jordan v the State in 2002 (6), where it was argued that the state should not control or tell citizens what to do with their bodies, whether public or private.

The adult content initially received mainstream attention after sex workers began using the site during the Covid-19 hard lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, when they could not earn cash the usual way.

“Pornography is not illegal in the country. Platforms such as OnlyFans constitute some type of pornography. However, given that there is a live feature built within the platform allowing people to actively engage in sexual acts for a reward, it would render the platform illegal.

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“Our courts have not yet provided clear guidance on platforms such as OnlyFans. They will continue to be unlawful in South Africa unless and until the courts or the legislature expand the definition of pornography to include the use of such platforms,” said Dladla.

Despite the blurred lines, one thing is for sure, creators on the site will be taxed by SARS.

The taxman said in January 2021 that all sales and subscriptions made through the OnlyFans content services website are subject to VAT, which represents 15 percent of all purchases made in South Africa.

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This did not go down well with Twitter users. One asked, “How is SARS adding VAT to OnlyFans content but sex work is not legalised in this country yet?”

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