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Sex workers are devaluing our properties - residents

RUNNING FOR COVER: Residents of Durban suburbs say sex workers swear at them when they tell them to leave their neighbourhood Photo: Thembinkosi Dwayisa
RUNNING FOR COVER: Residents of Durban suburbs say sex workers swear at them when they tell them to leave their neighbourhood Photo: Thembinkosi Dwayisa

THEY have tried everything, including filming them in the act with clients.

But sex workers just won't leave the Durban suburbs of Glenwood, Berea, Morningside, Umbilo and Overport.

Residents are now worried that their presence will devalue their properties and lead to an increase in crime.

"The police say they cannot do anything because every time they arrest them, the courts release them because prostitution is not considered a serious crime to land someone in jail," said Heather Rorick of Bulwer Community Forum.

"In the past we have tried to film the prostitutes with their clients, but we were told that that was illegal.

"When we try to tell these girls to work elsewhere, they swear at us and tell us we cannot do anything to them," said Rorick.

Residents said the sex workers do their business in their clients' cars, in parks, in quiet street corners and in abandoned buildings.

Morningside resident Siphokazi Ngwenya said estate agents are now finding it difficult to sell houses in the area. "As a result, all residents want to get away from here, but they will have to sell their properties below the prices they bought them at," she said.

"There is no doubt about it, these girls must get out of our neighbourhood."

Kholeka Sibisi of Sisonke Sex Workers Advocacy Group said several sex workers have lodged complaints after being assaulted or "pushed around" by members of the neighbourhood watch. "These girls are not doing harm to anyone. They are there to make a living.

"We have tried to speak to them not to be disruptive until such time that sex work is legalised in South Africa ..." Sibisi said.

The Commission for Gender Equality is mediating in the conflict. However, the commission's Janine Hicks said it was a difficult balancing act to protect the rights of both the residents and the prostitutes.

Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said: "We arrest people for loitering and soliciting business as prostitutes. It is then up to the courts to decide what to do with them. If they admit guilt they pay fines ..."

 

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