Spurious was the word Mavericks used to describe allegations levelled against it in a Human Rights Commission report. Picture: Courtney Africa.

Cape Town -

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has lifted the lid on what goes on behind closed doors in “The Library”, an exclusive section of Mavericks Gentlemen’s Club where the “rich and influential” enjoy sexual favours from exotic dancers.

Details are revealed in a 74-page document the HRC compiled and submitted to Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai earlier this month. It is the commission’s final report on its investigation into the impact of the business on the human rights of the dancers.

The sex claims were reported to the HRC investigators by a patron, who said “what went on there” was common knowledge. This was supported by information received from a law-enforcement officer.

In a further twist, a former dancer who declined to be identified because she feared for her life, also told investigators that sex took place in private booths.

Mavericks, however, denied that sex was being sold or permitted.

The commission recommended that police investigate the issues, which required further criminal and forensic investigation.

The matter dates from October 2011, when the Home Affairs department withdrew the Cape Town club’s two corporate permits to bring dancers into the country, alleging that there was nothing to ensure the dancers left South Africa when their permits expired.

The club took the department to the high court in February 2012, asking it to declare the withdrawal of its licences unconstitutional, and to stop the department from deporting its foreign dancers.

Judge Desai dismissed the application, but ordered the HRC to investigate any potential violations of the women’s human rights.

According to the report, submitted to the court this month, at the time of the investigations men paid R100 to enter the club, while members paid membership fees.

Dancers, who were mainly South African, charged R120 for back and neck massages, R220 for a six-minute lap dance, and R1 000 for a 15-minute dance during which touching was allowed.

Patrons paid dancers directly, while the dancers paid Mavericks a R2 000 weekly levy for the use of the facilities and an additional R850 a week if they lived in the accommodation provided. They also paid Mavericks R200 for every R1 000 earned from a 15-minute dance.

The commission heard that a dancer could earn more than R50 000 a month during the tourist season, with no tax deducted because they were considered to be independent contractors.

Dances were performed in a VIP area, which comprised a small booth covered by a thick curtain.

The Library was reserved for members only. A lap dance there cost R1 750.

The dancers worked from 7pm to 4am and were entitled to two weeks’ leave for every six months worked, and a medical certificate was required if they were off sick for more than two days.

Dancers were allowed to eat free.

The HRC raised concerns about reports that women had to dance while menstruating.

“It may be uncomfortable and humiliating for a woman…

“Mavericks’s management deny that women are required to work while menstruating. It may well be that the women feel that they do not have a real choice as they did not get an income if they do not work.”

The women said they were unhappy about being told where to sit and what to do.

They sometimes felt pressured to drink alcohol, a claim which Mavericks denied.

The report found that the women’s work conditions were inconsistent with their status as “independent contractors”, and left them vulnerable to exploitation.

The commission recommended that Mavericks review policies to ensure compliance with labour legislation and the constitution, and that steps be taken to ensure that foreign dancers complied with immigration laws.

- Saturday Star