In recent months, residents have complained about a number of houses in Glenwood and uMbilo being used as brothels. The residents claim that men are seen entering and exiting these houses at all times of the day and night.
uMbilo police have embarked on a clean-up of the suburbs after the community raised the alarm about an increase in brothels. In the last two raids, at least 20 women were arrested. However, the community feels that this is merely scratching the surface.
Lieutenant-Colonel Stanley Perumal, of the uMbilo SAPS Visible Policing unit, said uploading such pictures was dangerous.
“In wanting to clean up their communities, they could be harming other people’s lives. What happens in a case where someone parked in a road, near a brothel, unknowingly. Then his car registration details are put on to social media and that could cause harm to himself and his family.
“This is really an unconventional method. This can violate someone’s privacy,” Perumal said. He said that due to a lack of parking space, a person could park their car outside a house, not knowing that it was a brothel.
Perumal said police had identified the brothels and had conducted raids. “The next step is to get in the eThekwini Fire Department and building inspectors to come in and lock down the properties. This will show that we are taking action”
However, according to Emma Sadleir, a social media law expert, because the brothels are illegal, there is public interest and this overrides the privacy issue. She said the matter was dealt with under the country’s privacy laws.
“The first test would be if the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. You can sue someone for infringing your privacy if you can show that you had that expectation,” she said. With illegal behaviour, exposing the crime is usually more important than the privacy issue, she added.