hookers lay charges

Nkosana Lekotjolo and Lerato Phelefu

Nkosana Lekotjolo and Lerato Phelefu

Three of the seven prostitutes who said they were beaten and raped by cops last week yesterday laid charges against them at the Johannesburg Central police station.

"Cases of rape, assault and extortion have been opened against the police," said police spokesman Thandi Mabena.

The cops had refused to open cases against their colleagues on Sunday but Sowetan exposed their unconstitutional action in a shocking report yesterday.

"If these allegations are true, that police showed no respect to these women, then this is a serious issue that requires the minister to step in," Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille told Sowetan.

"The police are there to uphold the law, not break it.

"Something must be done about the police who protect each other."

De Lille said Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula and Gauteng community safety MEC Firoz Cachalia ought to intervene.

"It is a common practice for the police to physically, sexually and verbally abuse sexworkers and to ask them for bribes," Vivienne Lalu of the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (Sweat) said yesterday after meeting the prostitutes.

Akona Magau* said cops at Johannesburg Central had refused to accept her charges after one of their colleagues had raped her repeatedly.

She said the cops in the charge office had told her that she had had consensual sex with their brother officer and should not complain.

Sowetan's report detailed how prostitutes in central Johannesburg and Hillbrow said that they were sjambokked, punched, kicked and insulted by police at the station on Friday night.

The women claimed the officers had demanded bribes and sex from those who could not pay.

The prostitutes showed bruises and scars all over their bodies, which they said they got in the officers' brutal attacks.

Magau said an officer raped her repeatedly after she could not come up with money for a bribe.

Lalu said Sweat would battle to ensure that police who brutalise and rape prostitutes are brought to book.

Sweat was concerned that prostitutes were continually being arrested and released without any charges being brought against them.

*Not her real name

l See also page 10