The issue of prostitutes operating along the main road through White River is in the spotlight again after a resident was assaulted by one.
A few weeks ago, during the early hours of a Saturday, Héloïse Potgieter and her elderly mother returned from a hospital to their complex on the main street. Some of the women were downstairs and very noisy.
After settling her mother she went outside to park her vehicle. She asked them to keep quiet, but they ran off, leaving a bag. Potgieter picked up the bag up and found it full of condoms and toilet paper. “I poured water on it and decided to keep it to take to the police station later with a complaint.
The owner of the bag, however, grabbed it from me and another woman hit me over the head twice with her bag. A hard object in it caused injuries to my head.”
When Potgieter told them she would go to the police they ran away.
She laid a charge and obtained a doctor’s report. She complained to White River Post that nothing has happened since, but according to the station commander, Lt Col Mary Ngomane, the investigating officer, Sgt Willie Pretorius tried several times to reach Potgieter. “Either she did not answer or come down, since she had to identify the women.
Ngomane said she phoned her too, to explain that Pretorius went to the premises, but the women run away when they see the SAPS. “But we are chasing them and will work out another strategy to corner them,” Ngomane said. “We realise that Potgieter gets frustrated about the delay, but we have many other urgent cases to attend to too and are also short staffed at the moment.”
Ngomane expressed her own frustration with the ongoing situation, relaying that the issue had been discussed at length in Polsec meetings.
A petition was taken to court, requesting an order to evict the women. The magistrate, however, indicated that full identification and addresses for the women were needed to issue an order. This is almost impossible, since they refuse to identify themselves.
Ngomane’s appeals to the traffic department to police the customers, who park illegally, were also unsuccessful. “They work two shifts per day, the last of which already terminates before these women arrive for business.
My suggestion of moving the second shift to a later slot has not yet been adhered to,” she said.
An allegation that the prostitutes were actually protected by previous management at the local station, will be taken up with provincial management, Ngomane promised.
* After this article was published in the printed edition of the newspaper, Potgieter denied that she never answered her phone. She said that she can proof that no such calls were made to her. She also queried why she should have “come down and help the police” when they visit in the evening. “None of the residents would open the gates for anybody, since we can’t trust them any more,” she said.
“If they really want to do something, they can arrest the women and call me in the morning to identify them.”