BILLY NTAOTE, LEKHETHO NTSUKUNYANE and SECHABA MOKHETHI
BLOEMFONTEIN – Sherperded into a brothel distant from home and repeatedly raped by a foreign national and subsequently falling pregnant, such as been the traumatic existance of a 17-year old Angie* who has since cut herself from even once trusted friends.
Forced to fend for herself after scraping for a decent pass to attain her primary schooling leaving examination in 2016, the already double-orphaned Angie found herself renting a flat in Maputsoe after moving from her home in Matlameng, in the Leribe district, hunting for both textile factory and domestic work.
Angie had toughly managed a third-class pass at Matlameng and through peer pressure she was made to believe her schooling future was bleak.
At the hustle of finding employment in December 2016, the unsuspecting Angie was lured into prostitution by a long-lost schoolmate from Ficksburg, South Africa, together with her close friend, Moleboheng.
The elegance in the South African lady was what led Angie and Moleboheng into believing the old-time mate could actually find them a job and better life in Bloemfontein.
Angie narrated to MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism in a recent interview how the lady had promised to find them a job in South Africa.
“She promised to find us a job and promised to phone once she got it,” she told the Centre.
A few weeks later the lady had called Angie and Moleboheng to inform them she had found the job.
“She advised us to seek guidance while flagging down hikes to Bloemfontein because we did not have the money for transport. When we got to Bloemfontein she was already waiting for us at the taxi rank,” Angie said.
The lady took the duo to a flat which they learned at arrival belonged to two foreign nationals they suspected were of Nigerian origins. Their names, they were told, were Maxwell and Henry.
“Following introductions, I was immediately told that I belonged to Maxwell and Moleboheng to Henry,” said Angie. And as all this happened, Angie says she had not figured out what was going on.
“Maxwell took me to his separate room while Moleboheng remained with Hendry. We found another girl in Maxwell’s apartment and in the presence of the girl he told me about the rules of the work I was supposed to do.
“I did not know what work Maxwell was referring to until he listed the rules. The rules included that should not visit certain areas in Bloemfontein even if ‘clients’ insisted I should go there. They were said to be no-go areas and that they were dangerous for business,” She said.
The next rule Angie was taught how to use a condom and that she should strictly use it all time she was with the clients.
“The reality of what was going on at the flat sank in at the mention of condom usage. I realised then that I was lured into dangerous business of sex work. I had never engaged in the business of sex work before,” Angie said.
The lady and old-time mate was last seen during the introductions, “and I have never seen her even up to today,” Angie said.
The other firm rule Maxwell told Angie was that all the money she collects from clients she should surrender to him.
“He said I should not worry about anything as he would be buying me clothes, food and drugs. He spoke in simple English and repeated sentences. He kept asking if I understood,” she said.
Angie and Moleboheng did not have passports. They had smuggled themselves into Bloemfontein. Angie said that’s another reason she dismissed the thought of fleeing from what was clearly a brothel.
Angie narrated how the lady she had found in Maxwell’s apartment introduced her to the streets where she would meet with sex clients.
“If I got sick, Maxwell would get clients to come to the flat so that I could continue with the business from the house,” Angie revealed.
According to Angie prices ranged from M60 for blowjob to M100 or M150 for full package and money to be given to their bosses was supposed to match number of condoms used. She says she used to collect around M1000 during a good business day and around M500 on a normal day. To avoid slaps on bad days, Moleboheng as she was able to make more money, would give some of her acquired money and take her unused condoms.
Little did the poor Angie know she was actual put into a brothel. “The flat is owned by a Nigerian and only girls resided there with their Nigerian bosses. The Centre has learned there were about 11 Basotho girls in this brothel in 2017 when Angie escaped.
They were asked about types of drugs they were taking. They were forced into prostitution and put on drugs. If used, she says some of these drugs would make one forget occurrences of the previous night.
Working hours were from 1900 to 0400 am. There were many flats in the same compound and in each lived about four girls.
Angie has been forced into sex industry from 2016 December to 2017 March. “I escaped because I was pregnant.” Maxwell repeatedly raped her until she got pregnant. She added she had tried several times to escape but in vain, also threatened to be transferred or sold to far cities like Cape Town.
She says fortunately, there was a new Nigerian guy who wanted to sleep with Moleboheng and that’s when they saw a chance to offer sex in exchange for him to open a gate for Angie to escape. Upon her arrival in Ficksburg, she went to a hospital and discovered that she was two-months pregnant. She however got a miscarriage in May 2017.
She was later connected with the Beautiful Dreams Society by a social worker and is now staying at their shelter.
*Angie’s case is known to police. Lesotho police took up the matter with South African Police Service due to jurisdictional barriers.
Senior Inspector Moerane, Child and Gender Protection Unit head, holds a feeling the SAPS treated the matter improperly. They simply investigated the matter on the streets from the girls not far from the “brothel flat.”
He holds a strong view that police should have gone undercover or taken the girls elsewhere so that they are not threatened and a conducive environment created so that they are free to give the cops information.
The Centre understands many Basotho who find themselves in a situation like the one Angie found herself fear law enforcement agents due to threats of being deported or being taken to a detention centre for illegal immigrants in Lindela.