A prominent Port Elizabeth businesswoman is facing a string of charges of illegally operating a brothel in Summerstrand after a sex worker renting a room at a house was allegedly abducted‚ gang-raped and robbed at the weekend.
Humewood police only discovered the alleged brothel over the Easter weekend following the alleged rape and kidnapping of a 27-year-old KwaZulu-Natal woman‚ who arrived in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday last week‚ and booked into an apparent accommodation establishment in Admiralty Way.
On Tuesday‚ police top brass and detectives went to the home and questioned “tenants” who confirmed they were actually s_ex workers.
The house‚ opposite the Cape Recife High School entrance at the corner of Tenby Street‚ is owned by Naidoo Investment Trust.
Trustee Perapanjakam Naidoo – who also runs a guesthouse in Summerstrand and rents out rooms at the Admiralty Way address – has denied any knowledge of a brothel.
She is the mother of model‚ businesswoman and TV presenter Shashi Naidoo‚ who in 2011 beat the likes of Angelina Jolie‚ Alicia Keys and Christina Aguilera to clinch FHM’s s_exiest woman in the world title.
During an interview with detectives‚ the alleged rape victim admitted she was a prostitute and had come to PE looking for work.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidoo said the woman claims to have been woken at about 2am on Friday.
“According to the woman‚ she was awoken by a knock at her door. When she opened‚ she was forcefully removed . . . blindfolded and taken to an unknown place.
“The victim alleged that she was gang-raped by four men and dropped off at an unknown place. Police were alerted and the woman was picked up‚” she said.
“The woman’s cellphone and bank card were stolen. Money was withdrawn from her account. A case of rape and kidnapping is being investigated.”
One of the self-admitted s_ex workers‚ who declined to be named‚ said they were charged R500 per room per day. Each room is shared by two women.
“I am from Johannesburg and both me and my friend came to Port Elizabeth because there is more business and less competition here‚” the 32-year-old said.
“We have been living and working from here for four months now. The other rooms are occupied by other s_ex workers but they mainly work here and live somewhere else. On a busy day we have more than 10 clients and some days less than five.”
According to the woman‚ she and a friend were the only ones who both lived and worked there.
“The other girls come and go. I would say almost all the people who book into this place are in this line of work‚” she said.
The manager of the property initially denied knowing anything about s_ex workers‚ but later admitted to knowing about them. It is understood some workers make up to R40,000 per month.
By Sunday‚ police had taken one of the tenants at the house in for questioning.
“It is believed the robbery was coordinated by one of the other women who live and work inside the house. She was taken in for questioning but later released due to insufficient evidence‚” said one official linked to the case who cannot be named.
Colonel Naidoo confirmed a woman had been taken in for questioning but she was released later.
An official said an estimated R5000 was drawn from the alleged victim’s bank card at a tavern in New Brighton after attempts to draw money from an ATM failed.
“They [abductors] then dropped her off in Walmer. The woman originally didn’t want to open a case‚” the official said.
“Only after interviewing the woman did we establish she was one of several women working in the house.”
According to police‚ the woman claims to have seen several “clients” on Thursday.
“So the other girls and their pimps were well aware she had money on her. The other girls were upset because this woman had more clients than them‚” the official said.
Perapanjakam Naidoo‚ who also runs Access Guest House in Seventh Avenue‚ Summerstrand‚ denied the Admiralty Way house was a brothel‚ stating she mainly rented to foreign graduate students.
“I am not running a brothel. I need the police to guide me [as to] what to do. This is the first I am hearing about it. I am shocked‚” she said.
“They must open the dockets and come and guide me. We mainly have students that live there. If they are s_ex workers I did not know.” ”
Perapanjakam said she had tenants from East London‚ Durban‚ Johannesburg and other centres.
“What am I meant to do? Must I vet everyone wanting to rent a room? I have personally met these girls and others that live there – I would have never thought they are s_ex workers. They claim to be students‚” she said.
Asked how she thought the women afforded R500 per room – R250 per person sharing – per day‚ Perapanjakam said: “I don’t know. I thought their parents or someone was paying for it.”
Humewood police station commander Brigadier Ronald Koll‚ who was at the house on Tuesday‚ said detectives were opening a case related to charges for operating an illegal brothel.
“These places operate under the main auspice of renting out units to either students or for self-catering visitors. We have confirmation this particular one is being used by s_ex workers‚ “he said.
“The reality is these elements not only devalue the surrounding properties but also bring in the criminal elements into the area. This latest robbery and attack is an example of this.”
Koll said detectives were going to consult with the municipality with regards to violation of bylaws and building regulations.
“There is another flatlet being erected on site and we will be submitting a report to the municipality to have this halted pending our investigation‚” he said.
“We will also liaise with our counterparts at SA Revenue Service to assist with the investigation into the owner.”