Brothels allegedly use bed and breakfast establishments as cover

SIX properties in Pinetown are being investigated following alleged claims of bed and breakfast (B&B) establishments operating as brothels.

There are four properties in Central Pinetown, one property in Ashley and a fourth property in Cowies Hill that are under investigation.

According to a police source who asked to remain anonymous due to the nature of the investigation, there have been many reports of prostitution recorded in the past as well as police raids into those premises.

“We have found drugs and prostitutes in the establishments during raids. The prostitutes were arrested and fined, but unfortunately investigations have come to a halt due to the ‘tenants’ using the law needed for search warrants of their premises.”

According to the police source, these properties have been rented out for large sums of money, without questions about what these premises will be used for.

The home owners either live abroad or in another province and are never available when it comes to securing a search warrant. It is believed the tenants are running illegal small businesses from these premises.

Also read: Brazen acts of prostitution shocks Pinetown residents

A resident in the area who used Brian Black as a pseudonym due to threats made against him in the past, said what he did not understand is why do Metro Police and the authorities, who give licence and permissions to these B&B establishments, ask the community for its input and objections, and then, when the residents object, give the B&B establishments their licences anyway?

“We’ve seen the health department come and do free HIV/Aids screening for the sex workers. So, it is a brothel. There are sex workers there. We have the proof. We have witnesses, yet nothing is being done about it. And we have to raise children in these communities. This is not a best practice.”

Councillor responds

Ward 18 councillor, Melanie Brauteseth, said prostitution is the oldest profession in the world so no matter what legislation is put in place it will never be stopped.
“The fact that there are B&Bs that front for brothels is not a new phenomenon but it is difficult to police,” said Brauteseth.

However, she added that “brothels (and prostitution) is illegal. The city does not condone their establishment.”

eThekwini lays down the law

Gugu Sisilana, publications manager at eThekwini Municipality’s communications unit said the requirements/bylaws of a bed and breakfast premises is set down by the Town Planning Department and the Health and Fire departments. She added that the City’s Health, Fire and Licensing departments conduct inspections while the Town Planning Department determines the number of guests allowed to stay at a bed and breakfast.

“Any premises in a residential area wanting to convert to self-catering or a bed and breakfast will have to approach the Town Planning Department for special consent and it’s at this point that residents can object or alternatively report the matter to their nearest police station if they suspect that it is a brothel. The South African Police Service will investigate the matter if reported to them by residents,” said Sisilana.

KZN SAPS reacts

Provincial police requested the Pinetown SAPS to respond to questions emailed to them regarding the allegations. However, Capt Bongumusa Manqele, communications officer at Pinetown SAPS could not confirm the information. He said a number of prostitutes had been arrested outside the same establishments between April and June. These women were fined and released. Manqele added that there was no investigation into the bed and breakfast establishments as far as he knows, however, will confirm the information once the detective in charge of this type of case returns from his annual leave.


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Deshni Ramkissoon-Pillay

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