Monday, January 20, 2003

Willemien Brummer

'I have no words'

CAPE TOWN — "I still cannot make any sense of what happened at Sizzlers. I have no words."

This was the shocked reaction of a 23-year old former employee of the Sea Point massage parlour where eight sex workers were massacred on Monday morning.

The former employee, 'Johan' (pseudonym), was a 'masseur' and manager of Sizzlers between 1998 and 2002. Since then he has left the sex industry and continued with his studies.

A shaken Johan told how he walked past Sizzlers on Sunday night and considered dropping in "to say hello".

"However, my courage failed me - maybe it was a good thing," he said.

Johan said there could have been several motives behind the reckless killings. "Eric (the owner) had many hostile boys because he had fired them.

"Many guys from other massage salons were jealous of us — because we were one of the oldest establishments in the country. Or perhaps the attack had something to do with drugs…" he said.

"Eric was opposed to drugs, but most of the guys who worked there used drugs, and many of the clients too."

Johan said many of the employees constantly smoked dagga to calm down. He sometimes spent as much as R3 000 on cocaine in one night.

Some of the masseurs bought drugs from clients or from a dealer in Graham Avenue.

Yet, Johan said, the owner was very security conscious because of the threats his employees received on a regular basis.

The security gate was always locked because clients sometimes tried to leave without paying.

Johan said all the employees worked under pseudonyms. The age of the masseurs, the colour or their hair and eyes, their build, and what each was prepared to "offer" were all mentioned in newspaper advertisements.

Most of the new clients, who did not know the masseurs, first had a look at the men before selecting one. The first meeting was known as the "fish bowl" and employees paraded one by one before prospective customers.

Johan serviced an average of 95 clients every month and earned about R12 000. Most of his money was spent on clubs, clothes and drugs.

Working hours were between 11:00 and 02:00 the following day employees were not allowed to sleep in between jobs.

About 90% of their clients were apparently married men and many of them were Afrikaans speaking.

A former client, a journalist and rehabilitated drug addict, explained that regular visitors included academics, tourists, rich businessmen and well-known rugby players and actors.

The former client said most of the employees were men in their early twenties who came from rural areas and could not find other work in the city.

"Many of the guys were Afrikaans speaking and everyone had a terrible story to tell."

This client said he had bought and used drugs at the parlour on several occasions.

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Created: January 24, 2003
Last modified: January 24, 2003
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