Prostitutes in court to stop 'harassment'

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

The Cape high court is expected to hear an application by the city's prostitutes to stop the police from unlawfully arresting them.

The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task force, a rights organisation, will represent prostitutes today in the application for an interdict against the city police and Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Sweat spokesperson Vivienne Lalu said the application was a "culmination of a long struggle to find relief for sex workers".

"Sex workers are usually held in police cells for up to four days without being charged, and the case is usually never even investigated by the police," said Lalu.

She said these arrests were unlawful and amounted to abuse of power by the police.

Lalu said prostitutes were often arrested for loitering but were never prosecuted.

"It reminds one of the days of apartheid when people were arrested without being charged," said Lalu.

Prostitution is illegal in South Africa, and prostitutes and their clients can be charged with soliciting and public indecency if caught.

Lalu said a favourable outcome would decrease harassment by the police and ensure that prostitutes had "full access" to the law.