11 January 2018


SWEAT and Sisonke strongly condemns the unconstitutional raids carried-out by SAPS and criminal elements

The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce and Sisonke, National Movement of Sex Workers in South Africa, condemns the raid undertaken by the Minister of Police and the South African Police Services in East London, and the vigilante acts of criminal elements in Rustenburg. Police raids, which are labelled as efforts to get rid of the drugs in communities are nothing but publicity stunts that perpetuate stigma and discrimination against sex workers and foreign nationals.

Sex workers in particular regularly find themselves in the cross fire of community anger about crime. And when this happens, sex workers are often targeted and victimised by the police, as they are often associated with drug use, abuse and trafficking. This trend was seen when similar raids happened in February, 2017 in Rosettenville and Pretoria were sex workers and foreign nationals were victimised, displaced and their belongings torched.

In December 2017 at the ANC’s 54th National Conference, the Commission on Social Transformation announced that they have taken a resolution in support of decriminalisation of sex work in South Africa. These courageous steps were disregarded by the Minister of Police.

We would like to call upon the Minister of Police to stop perpetuating stigma and respect the right to dignity that is afforded to all by the Constitution of South Africa, and to desist from humiliating and stigmatising sex workers in the communities they live in – we are not a photo opportunity.

We call on all public officials to be aware of the power they hold and ensure they do not expose sex workers to more violence while they return home with armed escorts to their comfortable houses.

We further request that the Minister dedicate increased resources in order to find and bring to justice the murderers of the following sex workers; Babalwa murdered in Roodepoort in November 2017 and Thandeka murdered in Limpopo in December 2017 whose killers remain at large.

We welcome police investigations into exploitation and abuse and the development and funding of a comprehensive plan to address Gender Based Violence, which began last year August at the Police Indaba on Gender Based Violence and invite the Minister to engage further with the Positive Policing Partnership established in 2017, which aims to provide evidence informed solutions for policing in sex work contexts.

For media comments please contact:

Lesego Tlhwale

SWEAT Media Advocacy Officer

Tel: 021 448 7875


Shaun Bibi

Sisonke Eastern Cape Provincial Coordinator

Tel: 043 722 0757




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