Sex workers freed from harsh control of foreign national pimps
More than 20 women and girls as young as 16 were freed from slave-like conditions at the brothel they worked as prostitutes in Klerksdorp, North West, on Wednesday.
The group told Sowetan they were relieved to have finally been freed from the control of the foreign nationals they worked for.
They were freed after their rooms, some as small as toilets, were raided by residents who were angry at the Nigerians who allegedly killed a taxi driver in the area.
The deceased was stabbed to death on Sunday after he allegedly fought with a pimp who had refused to give back his cellphone.
He had apparently forgotten the cellphone at the brothel where he had allegedly paid to have sex with a prostitute.
His killing led to taxi operators in the area retaliating by burning houses leased out to foreign nationals and hunting down those suspected of dealing in drugs.
A Zambian national was killed during the attacks.
Rethabile Jacobs, 24, started working as a prostitute two months ago. She was seeking a way to raise her three-year-old child. She said a Nigerian pimp gave her drugs to smoke and then ordered her to go look for potential clients.
“There is a drug that makes you to want more; they call it a wake-up drug,” said Jacobs.
“We smoke it and go to the streets to look for clients.”
Once she managed to find a client, she would head back to the brothel for the client to make a payment to her pimp.
“It depends how he wants his session to be performed...” Prices for their services ranged between R50 and R100.
Jacobs said their job did not end there. They were also instructed by their pimps to rob their clients.
“We stole their cellphones and money. We do not get a share [for robbing them]; it’s all theirs [the pimps]. All they do is to supply us with the drugs.”
Chezzlyn Bock from Alabama township in Klerksdorp said the pimps were also beating them up when they wanted to go home.
“They locked us in a room if we want to go back home. I am happy that I will have time to go back home,” she said.
However, Nigerian national Moore Udozi said they could not be chased out of SA just because they sold drugs and operated brothels.
“There are South Africans who are also dealing with drugs and [operating] brothels. We are not going anywhere,” said Udozi.
North West MEC for public safety and transport management Mpho Motlhabane, who visited the area on Wednesday, said told Sowetan the department was working with municipal officials to shut down all illegal businesses in the area.
Motlhabane said 12 people had been arrested for public violence.
“We will arrest more [people] in relation to the two murders [and] one attempted murder, in relation to drug trafficking and prostitution,” Motlhabane said.