BROTHELS operating in suburban neighbourhoods have come under the spotlight in recent weeks prompting ward 27 councillor Martin Meyer to agree to partner with municipal departments to address the issue in Morningside.
Meyer has called on representatives of various departments he feels must work together to deal with the problem. These include SAPS, Metro Police, Safer Cities, Real Estate, Economic Development, Social Develoment, CPF, Parks and the City Manager.
According to Meyer, the prostitution challenge has grown tremendously in the lower parts of Morningside, with the main problem areas being Stamfordhill, including Percy Osborn Road, Lillian Ngoyi (Windermere) Road, Churchill Road, Adrain Road, Bornick Road, Kittymere Road, Peace Avenue, Dulwich and Oxford Roads, the whole of Sutton Park and Cypress Avenue, to name a few.
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“This problem is threefold. Prostitutes standing and doing their business in the streets, the so-called ‘lodges’ that allow prostitutes to do their trade on their premises, and brothels. Businessmen have gotten smarter, instead of having a brothel, they just run these lodges so that they can deny any knowledge or responsibility, making it more difficult for law enforcement to act,” said Meyer.
He said he was not unaware of and understood the challenges faced, and that no city in 4 000 years had been able to stop prostitution.
“Our law enforcement agencies just do not have the resources to effectively deal with this, and our courts are letting us down in enforcement. I am not expecting us to rid the city of prostitutes, especially as it is much more a social problem than it is a law enforcement problem. But the reality is that these people plying their trade in residential areas are directly affecting residents. It is important that we maintain control of residential areas, and that this type of business is moved to areas where it does not affect residents directly,” he said.
Speaking on the Bulwer area, Heather Rorick from Bulwer Safety and Urban Regeneration Forum said she knew of around seven establishments situated within a short distance from each other.
“The residents have had enough as there are brothels popping up all over. There are police members doing what they can, but until everyone works together including the courts, social services, health and so on, and when
the police do arrest, the courts should not just dismiss these cases. We need to get community courts to deal with these cases. There is too much going on in many brothels that cannot just be overlooked or passed on. It is not just the prostitution, it is drugs as well,” she said.
Meyer said urgent action was required. “The relevant municipal departments should investigate all these lodges that are suspected of being used in this trade. I strongly suspect many of them do not have licences to trade as B&Bs or lodges. Where they are found to be illegal urgent action should be taken to close them down,” he said.
In addition to this, Meyer said a month-long sustained blitz with all necessary enforcement and Social Development agencies was needed.
“Policing should be extremely visible, making it uncomfortable for clients to come to the area. Arrests must also be made, and this must be done with media coverage. Social workers, law enforcement officers and members of Safer Cities should engage with the sex workers and encourage them to move elsewhere. Those who require help to leave the profession must also be empowered to do so,” he said.
Meyer said training must also be done with local CPF and community members who will then do regular patrols in the area with the assistance of SAPS and Metro Police.
“I do understand that SAPS and Metro has been doing enforcement over the holiday period, but we need to involve more departments and target the lodges. I am finalising the names of suspected lodges and will pass this on to various departments. I also propose a meeting with all departments to formalise a response to this ongoing problem,” said Meyer.
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