Doctor Genchen Rugnath and his wife, Ravina. Photo:Sandile Makhoba

Durban - The prosecution team leading the case against five people charged with running a brothel say police took “every possible step” to protect the rights of the accused during a raid at the property.

Dr Genchen Rugnath, his wife, Ravina, and three others – Sandile Zweni, Nduduzo Dlamini and Bhabha Dubazani – are on trial in the Durban Regional Court.

The State alleges that 22 women and underage girls were recruited to work in the brothel, which was run from the 32-room Inn Town Lodge owned by the Rugnaths.

It alleges that one girl was only 12 when she was recruited, while others were between 13 and 25.

The girls were found during a search of the lodge in February 2012.

All the accused have pleaded not guilty to 156 charges.

The Rugnaths are opposing the admissibility of any evidence obtained during the raid of the lodge in the Point area, because they argued that the search warrant used was “invalid”.

The case went into a “trial within a trial” to test the validity of the search warrant, as the defence argued there were problems with the affidavit used to apply for the search warrant, which was made by the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Cyril Freese.

They further argued that the search warrant referred to Zweni, who was not the owner of the property.

On Monday the State closed its case in the trial within a trial, and Rugnath and Ravina elected not to testify.

State advocate Yuri Gangai argued that the police had not violated any of the accused’s constitutional rights during the raid.

“The investigating officer had information there was human trafficking taking place in that building, which did give him the authority to search the premises.

“Despite that fact, he took the additional step to obtain a search warrant. He took a further step to obtain permission to search the property.”


The defence is expected to present its arguments on Wednesday.

The Mercury