“I get up most mornings under the trees in Settlers Drive after selling my body to fill my stomach so I can survive another day. Then I look for another man to use my body and the cycle continues. Yes, I am a prostitute and that is how I stay alive in this world.”
Twenty-year-old Ngwazi (her sex worker nickname) has been a ‘lady of the night’ for a few months now, but her haggard face tells a different story. Younger and younger girls are becoming involved in prostitution in Ladysmith, and people are furious about this situation.
Prostitutes are seen in Lyell Street, King Street and Settlers Drive, “peddling their wares” to would-be customers.
Motorists complain that these girls, some still in their teens, go so far as to shout at drivers as they pass to get their attention. Ngwazi is unhappy to be a prostitute, but feels she has no other choice.
“If I don’t please a man, then I will have to go to bed hungry,” she laments. Ngwazi claims she was a drug addict before she started roaming the streets as a sex worker. Now she says she’s left the drugs behind and instead concentrates on making a living through charging men for sex. “I take each day at a time.”
Every day and night, she prowls desperately for customers, as that is the only income she receives. She does her “business” under trees or in any quiet place she can find. Sometimes it’s even in the luxury of a vehicle, away from the harsh dirt and mud of the riverbank.
She charges her clients R50 for “one round” and if they want to spend the night with her, then it ranges from R400 to R500. Sometimes she gives men discounts when she is really desperate for money.
She sleeps with any race and often doesn’t use a condom, as many of her clients want to have unprotected sex.
Most of the time, Ngwazi asks her clients for advance payment before sex, but many prefer to pay after they’ve had a good time. She shakes her head as she recalls many a time when clients have run away laughing without paying.
She averages about 12 clients a day.
“My friends judged me when they heard about my profession, not understanding that this is all I know. I did not finish school and can’t find a job. My family do not know that I sleep with men for money.”
She adds that even police officers approach her and ask for freebies.
“I refuse most of the time, because business comes first!”
Republished from Ladysmith Gazette