A horror story that finds expression on the streets of Polokwane has come to the fore this week as fear for the safety of two toddlers shed light on the pressing issue of a sex, drug and liquor chain that is of major concern to crime fighters and residents of Ladanna.
Community concern about the well-being of the little ones – whose fair-skinned mother was reportedly recently caught in the alleged act of prostitution and whose unemployed immigrant father is apparently aware of her acts that are perceived to pay for an additional drug habit – moved Polokwane Observer to investigate the matter. Following up on complaints of alleged child neglect, prostitution, drug abuse and theft, a much bigger social ill was discovered.
It pointed at the headaches posed by prostitution and fatal incidents at a shebeen in the area.
Ladanna Community Policing Forum (CPF) Chairperson Johan Duvenhage emphasised plans for future action in conjunction with Westenburg Police intended to rid the area of prostitution, which has become a headache the past three to four years. According to him sex workers, who apparently redirected their attention from Ivypark to Ladanna, and shebeen-related incidents posed major crime-related problems in the area.
He sketched a scenario exacerbated by a situation where women who were naked at times solicited clients at a central point in Witklip Street, an arterial road leading through the heart of the suburb. He said their clients were truck and taxi drivers, while some fair skinned men would never again return to the location after having been taken straight home to their wives upon discovery of their engagement in such acts.
According to Ladanna CPF Deputy Chairperson Morné Burger the problems had presented themselves even before the structure had come into being two years ago. He estimated around 40 prostitutes operating around the main street of Ladanna, mainly concentrating at the intersections of Witklip and Bulawayo Streets and Pietersburg and Blaauwberg Streets. He reckoned the highest prevalence was from Thursdays to Sundays, but that prostitution was a constant in Ladanna. He further corroborated Duvenhage’s version of a local accommodation establishment contributing to the prostitution problem.
Burger confirmed the alleged engagements of the particular young woman occurring in full view of the community, and also the youth, as well as the discovery of her interaction with a man in the bush in October this year. He related that they had been on patrol and when encountering them found that she had hurriedly given R200 to a truck driver to keep. The driver of the truck had later returned to hand her back her money, Burger said. They had been privy to the text messages she exchanged with him the entire day prior to meeting with him, he added.
Burger stressed that she was being witnessed having liaison with the drivers of privately-owned bakkies and vehicles, of which some were branded, generally during the day and sometimes in the evenings.
He continued to highlight a crisis with one of two shebeens in Witklip Street where stabbings, fighting, public drinking, pedestrian hits and theft from vehicles were seemingly the order of the day on weekends.
Initially community leader Lorraine Mabotse Mothiba brought the young family’s issues to Polokwane Observer’s attention. She was vocal on the intention to raise the matter with the Social Development Department. She also called on churches and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to assist to take the woman through rehabilitation. She simultaneously questioned where the children would be spending Christmas Day which was fast approaching.
The story reveals a twist that starts with a young mother with a promising accounting career relocating from Johannesburg about two years ago to Ladanna where she lives with her boyfriend, a Zimbabwean national suspected of never having obtained the necessary legal documentation, and subsequently has two babies. The tale doesn’t end there but more in tragedy as she allegedly gets fired from a job for suspected theft and prostitution that seemingly has to sustain the family and a reported drug habit. The drug purchases apparently gobble up the resources and leave little for decent care and nourishment for the little ones.
From community members it was learnt that the sexual interaction that predominantly brings her into contact with local taxi operators and truck drivers in big machines with international registration numbers, reportedly occurs in full view of all and sundry and that of her malnourished children and partner, claimed to be pimping her from where he allegedly keeps watch nearby. Occasional bruises to her face and upper body are witnessed and attributed to his anger bouts, it was learnt.
Although there are reports of her mainly keeping to Rivier Street on the far side of Ladanna, an irate community member warned of the young mother being in danger of getting killed as she elaborated on the realities of taking away the income of other street workers seen to be old hands at the trade and adamant to keep control of their territory. She attested to men and women from the community continuously having expressed concern over the issue but not being willing to report the matter to authorities.
Another resident, who refused to enter into the fray if any assistance would be channelled towards the mother instead of the children, claimed the young woman was known for having turned down offers for help and was witnessed converting material aid into cash to help pay off debts owed to drug dealers and loan sharks who demanded their returns from her. An employer of a local business reported that clients constantly approach them with complaints about the conduct of the young mother, who begs money from them to never have it returned.
Polokwane Observer was directed to her facebook page, which presented a different woman altogether, and an attempt to connect with her failed. Her sister in Gauteng was approached for a number but indicated she hadn’t had contact with her for months.
Story: YOLANDE NEL