Court hears ex's ultimatum to brothel accused

Durban - A mother of two threatened to leave a man if he did not stop his involvement in the running of a brothel that used young girls, the Durban Regional Court was told on Thursday.

The woman, who cannot be named, said she met Bhabha Dubazini, when she was taking one of her children to a clinic at Durban's Addington Hospital.

The two became involved, but she said she threatened to leave Dubazini if he did not quit working for his co-accused Sandile Patrick Zweni, selling drugs and managing the women who prostituted themselves from Inn Town Lodge.

The two men, along with Nonduzo Dlamini, Dr Genchen Rugnath and Rugnath's wife Ravina, have pleaded not guilty to 156 charges, including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.

Zweni is alleged to have operated the prostitution ring, which included girls as young as 12, from the hotel.

Dubazini's ex-girlfriend said that when she had met Dubazini, he told her how he made his living.

"He told me he was selling for Sandile from Inn Town Lodge. He said he was selling rock [crack cocaine]."

She said she believed that Dubazini had been honest about his living because "we were in a relationship".

"I'm not sure if he was trying to be open with me."

However, visits to Inn Town Lodge made her unhappy and she threatened to leave him if he did not stop his work.

After several months Dubazini obtained work at a restaurant called The Zulu Hut.

Asked by prosecutor Yuri Gangai what it was that she did not like, she replied: "What I observed was that there were girls younger than me and they were with much older men, which is something I did not like."

She found it problematic that when she visited Dubazini at the Inn Town Lodge she would be approached by men, believing she was a prostitute.

"I was not selling. Another thing that caused altercations [between her and Dubazini] was that there were other girls. Bhabha was involved with them on the side."

She said she had never taken drugs and was never part of the prostitution ring.

She witnessed the girls taking their money they had earned to buy drugs from Dubazini and Dlamini.

She said Dubazini would collect between R2 000 and R3 000 every day from those buying the drugs he sold.

Her relationship ended the day the police raided Inn Town Lodge and took her to the police station.

Witness protection

The court heard that she had been placed under witness protection, but had gone back home because she missed her two children.

Earlier another woman told the court she had consented to prostitution for free accommodation and to earn money to buy drugs.

The woman said she was 17 years old when she arrived at Inn Town Lodge to live with her boyfriend.

But after a six-month stay she was asked by Zweni whether she wanted to pay for her stay and for drugs through prostitution, to which she agreed.

The girl, who also cannot be named, admitted under cross-examination that she was already 18 before she agreed to Zweni's request.

Asked by Zweni's lawyer if she was forced into prostitution or to take drugs, she said: "They [Zweni, Dlamini and Dubazini] were selling drugs and they would stand at the door watching us. They would be looking at us working."

Rugnath's manager Veena Budhram was also initially charged but has since turned State witness.

Rugnath claims he knew nothing about prostitution taking place at the hotel, located in Durban's notorious Point Road area - known for its red-light activities - and left the running of his hotel to Budhram.