February 3, 2001, 06:36 AM

Police raid Hillbrow brothels

Police arrested 37 people, including two under aged girls, in raids on two Hillbrow brothels yesterday evenings. A team of about 60 police officers, accompanied by the Johannesburg area commissioner, Perumal Naidoo, and a high powered legal team, took part in the raids on the Summit Club and the Dorchester Hotel.

The 54 year old co-owner of the Summit Club was also arrested for contravening the Liquor Act.

The mainly Asian girls were loaded into police vans and taken to the Hillbrow police station.

The charges against them ranged from soliciting, being in the country illegally and being in the possession of illegal substances. The underage girls were to be taken to a place of safety.

The raids, Naidoo said, were part of a police crackdown on prostitution in the city centre.

"This isn't the first time we've been on a raid like this. We've been doing this type of thing for a long time, but we will be intensifying the fight against under aged prostitution from now on," he said.

Recent media reports have exposed severe underage prostitution in Hillbrow, specifically at the infamous Europa Hotel. Although yesterday's raids did not include the Europa, Naidoo promised there would be far more raids in coming months.

Henriette Bester, police spokesperson, said the raids were planned in early August.

"The police were not reacting because of the media reports, they were a long time coming," she said.

Bester said a raid required massive manpower, time and co-ordination. "You cannot arrive at a brothel with four or five officers, the people there would laugh at them. You have to hit them with a massive group, then they have no choice but to cooperate."

Naidoo said it was unfair to accuse the police of colluding with brothel owners. "Any member of the police who is involved in corruption will be rooted out," he said. "You can see we are committed to doing our jobs. It is painful to see what is happening to some of these children, the police are intent on stopping it."

He said the police could not merely walk into a club and close it down. "We do not have the legal right to do that. We can only act on police issues.

"Closing a brothel down is a job for departments like the Assets Forfeiture Unit and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions."

He said before evidence against the brothels and their owners had to be gathered, and that often took months.

— Sapa

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Created: March 11, 2001
Last modified: September 1, 2001
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