How to Clean Up Your Community of Sex Shops and Brothels



After pimps and prostitutes turned the Boston (Bellville, Cape Town) children’s playground into an outdoor brothel and residents were solicited in broad daylight, one brave lady decided she had had enough.

Says Mary Swanepoel, “I’m an ordinary wife and grandmother but there comes a time when you have to take action. God gave me the courage to step out of my comfort zone and   face the darkness head on.”

Not only had one resident been threatened by a pimp outside her own driveway, but children wanting to buy toys now have to walk past the stench of urine, used condoms and broken bottles left in the street by last night’s Teazers and Adult World customers to get to Toys R Us.

Residents are worried for the safety of their children. Local resident Lydia van Wyk says, “I had to tell my 3-year-old son that we can't play in the park because ‘there are bad people there’.”

I’m not just concerned about the safety of our neighbourhood, but I recognize that the prostitutes are doing this because of spiritual emptiness. They are being exploited and abused. If we can clamp down on the demand – the buyers and the industry, we will also reduce the supply.”

All aspects of prostitution are still illegal in South Africa but lax law enforcement and city council licensing departments ‘turning a blind eye’ have led to the spread of street prostitution and Sexually Orientated Businesses into suburban areas.

Strip joints and porn shops act as fronts for brothels and are hubs for criminal activity, including sex trafficking and money laundering. All they need to do to get their license approved by the Business Licensing Department is to meet Fire and Health Safety requirements. Porn shops must be licensed with the Film and Publications Board.

Mary went and talked to the managers of shops neighbouring these strip joints. She got them to write letters to the City of Cape Town and to the local Ward Councillor about what they have had to put up with from their sleazy neighbours.

One shop manager told of how he had to regularly hose down the wall outside his shop to get rid of the stench of urine and another told of his drainpipes being blocked with used condoms.

A meeting was also arranged with church leaders, the Boston Ward Councillor, business managers, police and residents to discuss possibilities for getting these brothels shut down and strategies to clamp down on street prostitution.

Mary was able to get hold of the floor plan for a new “massage parlour” planning to open in a building complex. The plan clearly shows cubicles with beds and showers. “Anyone with half a brain can see that more than just massaging is going to happen there,” says Mary. “Thankfully, after pointing this out to our ward councillor, the licence for this place has been put on hold.”

She encouraged the Boston Neighbourhood Watch to help patrol the area and alert the police. She also got residents to email her details of incidents where they had been intimidated or threatened by pimps. These were collected and given to the police to motivate them to be more alert to what was happening in the area.

Former Sea Point Ward Councillor, JP Smith, was able to get several licences of Sexually Orientated Businesses in Sea Point either revoked or new ones blocked by using every possible zoning or council bylaw. The “urban blight” in the area has now visibly been decreased.

Mary has been frustrated by the lack of police action in prioritising investigating and clamping down on these brothels, but she continues to persevere in alerting the ward councilor and police to new incriminating evidence.

“Who will rise up for Me against the evildoers?  Who will stand up for Me against the workers of iniquity?” Psalm 94:16


1. Speak to the managers of businesses surrounding the sex shops and courteously ask them to write a letter confirming incidents of litter, criminal activities or prostitution occurring in or around those strip joints etc.

2. Arrange a meeting with your local ward councillor and give him/her these letters. Find out about local zoning regulations and bylaws that could potentially prevent further brothels from opening up. Persist with polite pressure.

3. Get your local Neighborhood Watch or Community Policing Forum involved in advising residents of safety measures and alerting the police to incidents.

4. Get church groups to hold prayer vigils, outreaches and placard demonstrations outside the brothels to discourage customers from frequenting the premises.

5. Encourage your community newspaper and radio station to report on the criminal activities happening in and around these places to help galvanise support for your initiatives.

Further suggestions from a Bellville resident:
1)      Organise a meeting of all residents that are directly affected and are located in and around the streets and children’s playground.
2)      Agree on a formal plan of action that includes the financing of the Closed Circuit TV camera of most effected streets and its PR & Marketing campaign in community newspapers.
3)      Find and finalise best possible quotes for the purchase of CCTV and surveillance equipment.
4)      Introduce planned campaign to the Neighbourhood Watch, the Municipality and the local Police - get their endorsement and support.

“Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets With Dwellings.” Isaiah 58:12.

For further tips on cleaning up your community see:
Cleaning Up Your Community of Pornographic Magazines, DVDs and Tabloid Newspapers
How To Complain About Offensive Advertising
You Can Start an Action Group

To be informed and involved obtain the Christian Action Starter Pack, Make a Difference - a Christian Action Handbook for Southern Africa or Christian Action Audio CD Boxset from Christian Liberty Books:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , tel/fax: 021 - 689 7478.

Christian Action P.O.Box 23632 Claremont 7735 Cape Town South Africa - 021-689-4481 -
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