Elisha Molefe

Elisha Molefe

The North West department of health is embroiled in a row following allegations that its money was used to run a workshop at which three young women were taught how to be prostitutes.

A nurse has been accused by the women of luring them to a workshop under the pretext that they were going to be trained as peer educators. Instead they were taught how to be prostitutes by a sex worker who ran the workshop conducted at Protea Lodge on November 23 and had been paid for by the provincial department of health.

Boitumelo Mogapi, 21, Boitumelo Masina, 23, and Mmabatho Lepholletsa, 24, of Ipelegeng Location near Schweizer-Reneke allege that the nurse promised them jobs as peer educators.

Lepholletsa lives with her grandparents since her mother died a few years ago. She said they believed the nurse because they knew her well.

"I thought my troubles were over when she came to me and said I will be earning R500 a month as a peer educator," she said at the weekend.

The women said they were convinced the job offer was genuine when they were booked into the posh lodge in Mafikeng.

But their happiness was short-lived when fellow recruits told them the workshop was about how to please potential clients.

Masina said they were taught how to deal with clients who did not want to pay for services and how to approach truck drivers.

"The same night other girls said we must accompany them to 'mochofong' (to go out and look for potential clients).

"We were afraid and ran to the nearest police station in Mafikeng to ask for assistance. We wanted to be taken home. The police persuaded the same nurse to come and fetch us," she said.

They then engaged an attorney after the police at Ipelegeng police station refused to take their statements.

Ipelegeng police confirmed the incident. They said they did not take statements because they did not know what charges to formulate against the nurse.

Ruben Matsepe, primary health care manager at Mamusa sub-district, confirmed that his department had received a summons from the girls' attorneys.

He said although the nurse being accused was under his jurisdiction, the matter was in the hands of the law and the provincial department.

Nthabiseng Makhongoane, the department's spokesman, was cagey when approached for comment. After spending an hour at the health department office, she later phoned this reporter and said she was exhausted from attending meetings.

"I strongly deny the allegations. Yes, we have received a letter from the ladies' attorneys but I cannot understand it because it is written in Afrikaans," she said.