Residents want sex workers off streets

Brooklyn, Ysterplaat and Rugby residents say prostitution on Koeberg Road has been increasing despite complaints to authorities

Rampant prostitution in Brooklyn, Ysterplaat and Rugby is a blight on the neighbourhoods, say residents, who want the police to remove sex workers from the streets and act against brothels.

Prostitutes don’t just ply their trade at night, they are also out in plain site along Koeberg Road during the day while children are on their way to and from school, say residents.

Koeberg Road resident Magrieta May, 61, said she was fed up with chasing sex workers away from her front gate.

Some of them were rude and threatened to hurt her, she said, adding, “This has to stop, and they need to go.”

She said: “Between 1pm and 2pm, you won’t find them around here, as if they are on lunch. But just after 2pm, then you start seeing them popping up again.”

An Ysterplaat resident, who did not want to be named, fearing victimisation, said prostitution in the area had “become a norm”.

“They don’t see that what they are doing affects the whole community and our children, who will grow up thinking that it is okay to be selling yourself,” she said.

Used condoms, empty liquor bottles and heroin needles were often found in the streets, she said.

“Not only are prostitutes to blame, but they are contributing to the dirt in this community. They need to find some other area to stand.”

Cheryl Castle, a member of Brooklyn Ysterplaat Neighbourhood Watch, said prostitutes had been in the area for many years, but they had operated after dark. That was now changing, and half-dressed women had been seen relieving themselves in public during the day, while waiting for their clients.

The corners of Koeberg Road and Lavis Crescent, and Koeberg Road and Pool Street were prostitution hot spots, she said.

“The high volume of the prostitutes has been prevalent from around 2010, increasing in numbers to the explosion we have now. This has been raised to the authorities to try and curb the activity, yet it continues.

“No young lady wakes up and chooses to be a prostitute. A lot of the girls are from small towns up country. I doubt they are doing this by choice; the authorities need a major plan forward on how to resolve this.”

Justin Kumlehn, who is chairman of both the Maitland Community Police Forum and the Brooklyn, Ysterplaat, Rugby Ratepayers’ Association (BYRRA), said prostitution had increased since the start of the pandemic, and each corner along Wemyss Street and Boundary Road in Milnerton, was a hot spot.

Residents had logged frequent complaints with the City, calling for by-law enforcement but been ignored, he said.

Jade (not her real name), a 37-year-old sex worker in Koeberg Road, said she had no other way to earn a living for herself and her two boys who are in grades 2 and 4.

She wanted to give them the best education and the life she never had, she said.

Jade said she had been working along Koeberg Road for nine years and was well known by some residents.

She said she had previously worked as a cashier but had been fired after being accused of stealing and had had no luck finding a job again.

“Some of us are treated like criminals here and just want to make a living and a better life for ourselves. We have morals, while some others don’t, especially the young ones. We cannot all be painted with the same brush,” she said.

Megan Lessing, a spokeswoman for the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force (Sweat), said they ran regular outreach programmes for sex workers in the area. The organisation advocates for the decriminalisation of sex work and delivering services to sex workers.

“It is becoming a common practice for communities to act out against people who occupy public spaces in their neighbourhoods simply because they are poor or because assumptions are made about them. This essentially criminalises the person, and we find that many people assume that they are allowed to attack people who are assumed to be sex workers. It is important to continue to emphasise that everybody in South Africa enjoys freedom of movement,” she said.

Tabletalk sent questions to Milnerton police spokesperson Captain Nopaya Madyibi, on Thursday September 15, but she said on Monday September 20 that she needed more time to respond.

The City and ward councillor Fabian Ah-Sing did not respond to questions by deadline.