The sex hub of Gaborone

Sex workers
Sex workers

The Gaborone West shopping complex has styled itself as the sex hub of Gaborone at night. If you drive or walk in the mall by the Shell filling station, the vision of skimpily dressed commercial sex workers in all shapes and sizes offering sex for money decorate the streets.

Most of the commercial sex workers who are trading there are from Zimbabwe. There has been an influx of Zimbabwean commercial sex workers in Botswana since the neighbouring country started facing economic ruin around 2000.

One would have easily thought the  prostitution business in G-West would be declining following the closure of a popular night-club in the area after it was gutted by fire in 2012.

Commercial sex is probably thriving more than ever at the Gaborone West shopping mall even during the wee hours of the night.

The price for rounds of sex vary from as little as P20 for what is called “short time” and up to P150 for the “whole night”. The charges can go up to P300 for a night depending on the negotiations between the parties involved.

Gaborone West Police Station Commander, Superintendent Agreement Mapeu says they suspect that some women are into commercial sex work at the mall. He says they could tell that something fishy is going on because of the manner in which the women  dress.  However, Mapeu says they cannot charge the suspects with soliciting because there would be no evidence. 

He says to charge somebody with practicing prostitution, there has to be a customer. However  the customers never come forward. “When you see a couple, you can’t just arrest and charge them for prostitution,” Mapeu says.

However, he says that they charge the women with idling. 

He adds that they mount regular patrols for this purpose.   Mapeu says that most of the women that are arrested for loitering are Zimbabweans, though he added that even Batswana are involved. 

The police chief says that usually the suspects would claim that they are just hanging around or waiting for a friend to pick them up.  Curiously though the loiterers always run away when the police approach, according to Mapeu.

The station commander says those who are arrested pay an admission of guilt fee.  In the case of Zimbabweans, he says, they are deported after paying the fine, although the alarming number of the sex traders on the streets tells a different story.

 The G-West Police chief is convinced that the loiterers always come back after being deported because his records show that they keep on arresting and deporting familiar faces. The police now intend taking repeat offenders to court since the situation is now getting out of hand.

Mapeu says they always mount regular patrols specifically targeted at ladies of the night. He observes that the women  usually turn up in large numbers at weekends and during monthend. He added that after staging a raid the women will disappear for some time but will emerge at the same spot a few days later. 

Some years ago, a Gaborone West street barber escaped near death after his manhood was slashed with a razor blade by an irate commercial sex worker after he failed to pay for the services rendered.  The injured man was admitted at the Princess Marina Hospital and the matter was reported to the police. The street barber passed on last year from an unrelated illness.

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