The accused in the sex-trafficking matter in court in Cape Town.
PHOTO: Jenni Evans, TIF News
- A witness in a sex trafficking case said she was given heroin to use on the bus to Cape Town to avoid withdrawals.
- She testified that at first the move to Cape Town for sex work was good, but she was soon mistreated by her bosses.
- The case involves more than 40 charges with extremely vulnerable women, such as the addicted or unemployed, promised good money in Cape Town.
When Lucille* boarded a bus in East London to head to Cape Town for sex work, her boss gave her a packet of heroin to take on the bus, the Western Cape High Court heard on Thursday.
“The heroin was in case I got withdrawals on the long bus journey between East London and Cape Town,” said the woman, whose real name cannot be revealed.
She was testifying in the trafficking, debt bondage, rape and assault trial of Edward Tambe Ayuk and his wife Leandra Williams Ayuk from Springbok in the Northern Cape, as well as Leandra’s brother-in-law Yannick Agbor Ayuk.
They have all pleaded not guilty, and Leandra Ayuk is on bail while the other two are in custody during the trial. The 40 charges on the indictment include benefiting from the proceeds of prostitution and assault with grievous bodily harm.
The diminutive woman has been testifying how she was approached in East London, where she was a sex worker, and was convinced to move to Cape Town, allegedly to join the Ayuks at a brothel in Brooklyn.
She had sex with clients for between R200 to R300. She told the court that she had to hand all the money over in exchange for a R50 packet of heroin and a “rock”.
She would inject the heroin, smoke the rock, and go out to the next client.
A self-identified drug addict, she said the brothers knew about her addiction when they recruited her.
The State alleges that the accused targeted very vulnerable women and teenage girls who were either desperately unemployed, addicted to drugs, or already in the sex work business.
She was promised better money in Cape Town and so took them up on their offer. However, she soon realised that all was not as promised. She testified that things were good at first, but as time passed in the few months she lived at the house, she was being mistreated.
It wasn’t as it was in the beginning. They were nice in the beginning. I didn’t have my freedom at the end.
She said the bosses really turned on her when a car drove into her and injured her right leg. She had to wear a cast and could not work. “I had to stay in the house permanently. I couldn’t go out.”
Usually, she would stand at a corner in Brooklyn, and a client would find her there. She would conduct business in the client’s vehicle or she would take the client back to the ageing brothel with its drably furnished bedroom. During the day, some clients would take her to their houses. She had to return to the brothel, and the cellphones given to her for the purposes of clients reaching her, were checked.
The accused also face drugs charges, and the court heard on Wednesday that the brothel would also have “smoking clients” who would spend the night taking drugs.
“He (Edward Ayuk) would go through the phone to see if there were numbers of other drug dealers,” she said.
He didn’t allow us to buy from other dealers. That was one of his rules. I think maybe it was jealousy of taking our money to another drug dealer instead of to him.
She said that if she asked if she could go out or have some money for herself, he wouldn’t listen.
“He didn’t care.”
She has already told the court that she had nothing to call her own, and was not given any money, just drugs. Because of her small stature, she wore clothes that the teenage sex workers wore, and her only new outfit was a dress from Pep bought by her boss.
The court heard that her phone was confiscated when a phone call to her father was spotted.
She had called him for help to leave Cape Town. Her father sent her R100.
However, the Hawks eventually swooped after a tip and the Ayuk brothers were arrested. Leandra Ayuk was arrested the following year.