Pretoria - Residents of Philip Nel Park in west Pretoria have made it clear they won’t tolerate prostitution openly taking place near their homes. At the weekend they burnt makeshift beds allegedly used by prostitutes in the open and forced women they accuse of being prostitutes to walk down the street carrying banners.
came out in their numbers at a demonstration on Saturday and made their voices heard against what they said were illegal activities, people squatting in the veld and an increase in petty crime.
Resident Paul Masina said they were tired of police claiming there was no evidence to support their complaints of prostitution taking place in the veld by a stream which runs near the crematorium.
“These people break into our houses and hide in the bushes. There is so much prostitution going on we decided to be proactive and bring the evidence to police ourselves.
“It’s disgusting and filthy here because of them so we’re destroying their businesses so they won’t come back again,” he said.
Masina said the community had been neglected for far too long and the city needed to help them make their community safer. Around the makeshift beds set up in the veld were used condoms and toiletries, empty alcohol bottles and what appeared to be human waste.
The residents apprehended several women and forced them to carry banners down the street all the while chanting behind them “Phantsi ka marago a R20” (Down with prostitution for R20).
One of the women, Johanna*, admitted that she was a sex worker but was simply doing what she could to survive. “Even if the police arrest us they will let us go, either asking for a fee or sex. At times they (police) even come and rape us at night.”
Another woman, Natasha*, said she had heard the residents were coming but didn’t know why they were bothering them because they were not hurting anyone. “I’m from Rustenburg. The money I make I send home to support my family. It hurts but we’re used to being harassed by people and police.”
The women, some of whom were very emotional, said they were blamed for things which were not their doing. “If someone breaks into their (residents’) homes, they blame us, and it’s not true,” said one.
Clouds of smoke filled the air as mattresses and other items were burnt.
Police on the scene put some of the women, along with some men found with them, in a police van.
However, SAPS spokesman Captain Bonginkosi Msimango said there was no record of any arrests made over the weekend but they would look into what happened.