THE spotlight on the underbelly of Parklands’ sex trade has revealed how young girls are lured to sex parties and paid R1 500 or clothing in exchange for sex.
This comes after several videos and audio clips spread like wildfire on social media where girls as young as 15 detailed how they were paid as little as R1 500 to have sex with men, some twice their age.
Organisations such as the South African Youth Council, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and the EFF have since called on the authorities to crackdown on those suspected to be behind the trade.
In one of audio recordings, a 15-year-old girl is heard explaining to her mother’s friend that her schoolmate explained the rules to her when they got to a house in Parklands.
The teen was told to always insist on the use of a condom when having sex.
She said: “The schoolmate instructed me to watch while they had sex, after the guy was finished he took a shower and made an EFT payment of R1 500, he then turned to me to have sex.”
According to the teen, she was initially unaware that she would have to perform sexual acts.
“The one guy who hosts parties, buys alcohol and invites other girls. These guys also do their own recruiting on an app,” she explained.
The teen further explained that she got paid in clothing and admitted that she used marijuana.
The Youth Council’s Zuko Mndayi said they learnt that the parties involving teens were common in prostitution rings run by foreigners in the Cape Town suburb.
Mndayi said: “The girl who invited the 15-year-old is only in grade 11.”
He explained they visited the teens’ school in an attempt to help.
“We met with the school to identify programmes we can run to avert the network from expanding.” They also called on joint operations between the police and Home Affairs to clamp down on these rings.
“They must verify and deport illegal immigrants and immediately arrest” those who broke the law.
Police spokesperson Colonel Andre Traut said the Family, Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit was investigating the matter.
“Due to the sensitive nature of sexual offences, the finer aspects of our investigation cannot be disclosed,” said Traut.
Private detective Carlo Antha who specialises in child rape and sexual related cases said in his 20 years of dealing with exploitation of girls, Parklands had been on their sex trade radar.
Previously the police focused on Woodstock, Sea Point, Cape Town CBD and especially Goodwood main road.
“This is a business, a lucrative one ... they need to set up somewhere, where competition could be avoided and that's why Parklands is the ideal place because of its economic background,” he said.
Antha said these investigations were often complex and protracted.
“We find that most of these girls who work in brothels, hide it from their parents, so they do not want to give statements.
“If the sex-ring boss is a foreigner without documentation, its easier to move around and difficult to track.
“This is why these cases need thorough investigation. It needs to be strong, because as an investigator, you want a conviction. This is truly one of the most difficult cases to investigate, its an evil, dark place,” he said.
A community activist in Parklands who works with survivors of the sex trade, told Weekend Argus that many of the young girls are naive.
“These children don’t even know what would happen once they stepped into that house. They get introduced to it, It becomes the norm that money isn’t even the factor anymore. That’s why I believe that our children need to be educated about this,” the activist said.
A former self-proclaimed escort, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the sex trade had evolved and young girls unwittingly become trapped in its snare.
“Escorts also only work for South African owners, it's a general rule we have, for safety sake. You don’t get recruited and you also don’t get paid with drugs or clothing, that is an accessory,” said the 44-year-old.
“You accompany your client to parties or events, and if they want to have sex, its totally up to you. You don’t get hired to have sex like these young girls.
“These young girls are being exploited, and the men who use them for sexual pleasures are criminals, because it’s rape,” said the woman.
MEC for Community Safety and Policing Oversight, Reagan Allen said these reports were a concern.
“I'll be engaging both the provincial commissioner and the Table View SAPS commander about their specific safety plans for the area.
“Volunteers, including the (Neighbourhood Watches) are quite active in the area and we need to find mechanisms to strengthen their hand,” he said.