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Police are cracking down on sex workers in Gauteng for being illegal immigrants, not for sex work, say police. In early February police conducted a late night raid on the Springs Hotel, Gauteng, and arrested around 20 women, mostly from Zimbabwe. Some men were also arrested. Witnesses say police fired two warning shots before proceeding into the hotel to make the arrests.
Other arrests were reported in January at the corner of Bree and Mooi streets in Johannesburg where immigrant sex workers are known to operate. Police stopped her with three other women and asked to see their passports. Two of the women had Zimbabwean passports, one had a Swaziland passport, and Danai had no passport. Leave to enter had expired for the three with passports.
All four were arrested. Danai all names have been changed in this article who is being held by police, is expected to be taken to Lindela Repatriation Centre for deportation. It is not the first time she has been deported. Last time she was dropped at Beitbridge and she came back into South Africa on the same day, crossing the river and paying smugglers for safe passage. Danai, who is 37, first smuggled herself into South Africa in January Sex workers are routinely arrested for practising sex work in her hometown of Harare.
She had heard sex workers had more freedom in Johannesburg. Danai shared a flat with two women in Nigel. Her clients often picked her up in their cars. On weekends she would work in one of the brothels in town. She and other women would book a hotel room for a few days. Back in Harare, Danai has a year-old daughter and a year-old son, who live with her parents. Although she has not travelled home for a while, she sends them money every month. Gloria and Linda, who share a flat with Danai, left R1, for her with the Springs police in case she is repatriated.
Gloria is from Kwekwe, a small town in Zimbabwe, and she has been in Johannesburg for five years. She is currently building a house in Zimbabwe and she travels home when she can. She regularly sends money to her mother who is looking after her two-year-old son. Linda is from Swaziland. She came to Johannesburg when she was 24 to study beauty therapy. She paid for her tuition through sex work. She recently visited her parents back home and her passport stamp is still valid.