MBOMBELA – It’s not a secret that the sex trade is rampant in the city, but what’s hush-hush is the fact that children as young as 12 are prostitutes. Clients gladly pay for their services at any given time.
This harsh reality was recently uncovered by a 29-year-old woman from Luphisi, who is passionate about young girls’ well-being.
Ms Adelaide Ngema told Mpumalanga News that she was in the city minding her own business when her attention was drawn to a young girl dressed in a T-shirt standing on a corner in Anderson Street.
“I approached her and spoke to her. She told me that she was selling her body so she could take care of herself since her parents had both died when she was only eight,” Ngema told the paper.
The woman was taken to a flat, which she referred to as a filthy brothel, where the young girl and others, aged 14 to 17, lived.
Ngema said what she found there was gut wrenching and she couldn’t stop crying as she spoke to the girls.
“There were drugs everywhere and some of the girls were even high,” she said.
Ngema and this journalist went on an fact-finding mission.
In an attempt to establish if the kids were victims of child trafficking, this journalist asked a 14-year-old girl who works from one of the flats on Anderson, who had brought her to the city for the job.
She reluctantly said she came on her own and vowed that she loved her job as it provided for her needs.
“I’m from Swaziland and some of my friends I work with are from Mozambique and Bushbuckridge.
“The only thing that brought us here is the fact that we are trying to fend for ourselves. No one is forcing us,” she assured us.
“There’s been plenty of police raids here and we always receive tip-offs. So when we know they are coming, we go into hiding,” said the 14-year-old.
One of the older sex workers, under the impression that this journalist was from a centre that looks after homeless people, overheard the conversation and jumped in.
“These children must go back from where they came or be captured by the police because we don’t want them here.
“They are preferred by our clients since they are still young with warm blood and our business is dying,” she said, adding that the young girl was lying about not working for anyone, but she wouldn’t divulge any more information.
When the paper called one of its sources who gave it information about a 12-year-old who is also in the trade, she said the young girl was asleep and couldn’t talk to Mpumalanga News.
Another woman, a 24-year-old, burst into tears as she related how had she ended up here.
“I don’t want to do this, but I have twins who I need to fend for and so far, this is the only way how.
“If I can get a job, I will gladly stop this and take it,” she said.
She added that the flat from which they worked, which is just a stone’s throw away from the police station, always survived SAPS raids, even though there are many drug dealers who operate from there.
Ngema challenged the MEC for community safety, security and liaison, Mr Vusi Shongwe, to actually conduct an unannounced raid to witness the situation for himself.
When this journalist contacted Shongwe, who said, “I can confirm that I have received a call from Ngema and I’m well aware of the issue.
I’ll definitely come up with a plan to tackle this matter and ensure that it’s resolved”.