sex worker arrests unlawful (SWEAT)

City’s vice squad violating SWEAT’s interdict Lawyers acting on behalf of SWEAT (Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce) have submitted a letter to the City of Cape Town detailing in legal terms why the ongoing arrests of sex workers are unlawful and requesting that the City respond by 5 November.

On 16 October 2009 the City issued a media release stating that they had arrested 84 sex workers for soliciting and that the purpose of the arrests was to ‘profile sex offenders at the police station and register them on the City database if they are habitual offenders’ – such evidence ‘can subsequently be used should habitual offenders be arraigned in court’. All eighty-four of the sex workers who were arrested were released ‘after being profiled and fined’.

According to letter written by Angela Andrews from the Legal Resource Centre: ‘The arrests violate the terms of the interdict granted in favour of SWEAT by the High Court on 20 April 2009, and the circumstances in which arrests can be made without a warrant. Such arrests must be made with the intention on bringing the arrestee before a court and cannot be made with the intention of “profiling” an alleged offender or imposing a series of admission of guilt fines on them.’

Vivienne Lalu, advocacy coordinator at SWEAT felt that the City should be held accountable to the law like everyone else. She further stated that sex workers fought long and hard to obtain the interdict. She said: ‘Sex workers do have rights even though the work they do is considered a crime.’ SWEAT would value any opportunity to engage the City regarding this matter. The random arrests of sex workers not only fails to address real crimes and those criminals who capitalize upon sex workers, but cause the industry to be driven further underground and result in sex workers not being able to access their human rights.

Please contact Vivienne Lalu from SWEAT on +2721 4487875 / +2782 4940788 or Angela Andrews from Legal Resource Centre on +2721 4238285.

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Filed under Economics, Health, Politics, South African Government

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