Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Hookers await Constitution ruling

A pending Constitutional Court ruling on prostitution has delayed the trial of a group of prostitutes who were arrested last month while plying their profession in Bellville, Cape Town.

The group was represented by attorney Cornelius Smith, who told the Bellville Magistrate's Court on Wednesday that the Constitutional Court judgment was due on March 5 and 6.

The hearing was postponed to April 3.

The Constitutional Court will decide on the validity of sections  of the Sexual Offences Act relating to prostitution.

The sex workers, who are charged with "soliciting or enticing", were arrested during a police blitz following complaints from Bellville residents.

At an earlier appearance, magistrate Jerome Koeries noted that the addresses of most of the prostitutes was given as 40 Denton Street in the suburb of Ravensmead, near Bellville. Smith said the address was a sex worker commune.

Smith represented prostitutes Jessica Vollenhoven, 19, and alleged pimp, Allen Williams, 21, who appeared with prostitutes Regina Martines, 48, and Sharon Delport, 33.

Smith said he had discussed the case with the senior prosecuting  authorities at Bellville, in the light of a landmark Pretoria High Court ruling about a year ago that effectively legalised prostitution.

He said he was "absolutely astonished" that the Bellville authorities had decided — despite the Pretoria ruling — to press ahead with the charges.

The Pretoria High Court ruled that prostitution itself was legal  if it involved a prostitute and a person seeking sex.

However, it became illegal if a pimp shared the prostitute's income.

Smith contended that the prostitution laws were archaic, and that the Pretoria ruling remained a precedent until such time as the Constitutional Court decided on the issue.

— Sapa

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Created: February 26, 2002
Last modified: July 9, 2002
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