Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The night I was nearly murdered was a direct result of the commercial sex work [CSW] I was engaged in.

As usual I was in a nightclub, but there was only a little business. I had had a few drinks and my normal clients were not there to give the cash I was looking for. I had rent to pay, food for my child to buy, pay for the child minder. It was in the early hours of the morning when there are very few people around, and the darkness seems especially dark and the night felt especially lonely. There were a few moth-eaten, dirty rats scurrying around snatching the remnants of hamburgers, and the odd piece of fish or a lonely chip or two. These were thrown away by half drunk, half full, half empty night club revellers. Some, like me, were disappointed that their hopes and lusts were unsatisfied, so the exodus home had begun. The first few were getting into their cars and fading into the blackness of the night.
Fig. 1. Margaret, the Ex 'Queen of Durban'

I decided to get a lift home while I could. Sometimes a lift turned into good business. Talk might arouse desire and the man might pay for services rendered, or at least money for a midnight takeaway or a morning breakfast. A car stopped for me. It was a man who was alone. Things were hopeful. He offered to take me all the way home- it looked like business was going to come my way after all. I agreed and got into the car and soon we were chatting away. But then suddenly he drove past the turning. I asked him to drop me right there, but he only accelerated. He drove past Kloof, then Pinetown. I began to fear. My heart began to pound. My mouth became dry. My knees stared to shake. About 40 km from the club in a rural area he turned into an isolated property. Visions of kidnapping, violent rape and murder filled my imagination. I had heard of girls just disappearing, never to be heard of again. Now I was really frightened. No one knew where I was. If I disappeared, no one would know that I had been to this club, so no one would be able to find me. Only the child minder and my son would be waiting in vain. He drove between waterfalls towards the gate of the house. No one would hear my screams. No one would come to my rescue.

I had to do something, and quickly. I started begging for my life. I begged and begged and begged. And he relented. This time he drove me to another house. But this house was as frightening as the last one. On the garage there were weird paintings in red paint of human heads and human bodies. The heads were apart from the bodies, and the legs were apart from the bodies also. The house was dimly lit. I was once again scared for my life. I got out of the car and ran for my life, but the house I ran to was empty. The man followed me in his car, calling out for me to get into the car, but I was terrified. Finally he asked me if I had whiskey in my flat. I lied and told him I had all kinds of drinks. He then agreed to take me home. This time he did take me home, but as soon as he stopped the car I ran out of the car and into my flat and locked the door behind me. I was shivering with fear and it was not until near dawn that I finally managed to get to sleep.This was a risk I ran on any night of the week in this business.

Fig. 2. Margaret, beginning to attend House of LIFE services

I was 15 when I started to doing CSW [Commercial sex work] in Cape Town. A friend who was already engaged in CSW told me that I could make a lot of money for very little work. I was strongly tempted because I came from a very poor background. To me easy money looked better than the struggle of poverty. I found that my beauty and my charisma drew in the clients and I was quickly earning money I only dreamed of, money that only those with high educational qualifications could bring in. I told my mother that I was staying with friends, but in reality I was staying in the houses and hotel rooms of strangers.

Another friend invited me to come to Durban with her, and I agreed. Her child became sick so she returned to Cape Town, but I stayed on in Durban because the money was plentiful. It was not long before I became pregnant by a white man who worked for Mondi Paper Mills. But he abandoned me and the baby when he went back overseas. This forced me to work even harder to pay for baby care and all the things my baby needed.

Fig. 3 Margaret in worship at House of LIFE

I would go to clubs and meet sailors, then they would smuggle me on the ships and I would do whatever they wanted. In the morning they would give me 100 US dollars. One night’s work would pay for two weeks accommodation. Any extra cash would go for food and buying high class clothes and the kind of hairdo’s that the rich pay for. This would bring in more money.

They called me the Queen of Durban and my fame grew and grew. Often I would be paid for getting new girls for my old clients. They would then also pay the girl for their services.

But eventually I tired of it. My life was empty. My son would know I was a CSW and he would despise me. At times I would have to be treated for diseases. At times I would be cursed for giving men the diseases other men gave me.

In 2007 I started to go a church called 'The Well,’ in Winder Street, in the Point area of Durban. It was at that time I met a woman called Petra Mercedes Luna on the beachfront. She preached Jesus to me and I began to be interested in the gospel. I followed her to Doctors for Life in Pickering Street, a ministry she started. I would go there daily to hear the gospel, but there was no rehabilitation centre so I was forced to continue doing the CSW work I began to hate. When Petra returned to the USA I went to Cape Town and worked in a Bed and breakfast there. At last I was able to stop CSW. But that job came to an end and I was back into poverty. I had to return to my old ways.

Fig.4. Listening to a sermon at House of LIFE

I returned to Durban in 2008, and it was there that I saw Petra Mercedes Luna once again, on the beachfront. She invited me to meetings in Fisher Street. These meetings are on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes Petra preaches, sometimes Pastor Steve Blomefield preaches and often other pastors preach. They then feed us. This food is really needed because many of us have just no money. Through their teaching I am learning about Jesus. But because we have no way of earning money, we are sometimes forced to go back to the streets to pay for our accommodation which costs USD 5.00 a day.

I am helping House of LIFE staff feed the people at the end of each service. The food is donated by supermarkets, people in Phoenix [Durban], Grace Cafe and the Container Ministry of Grace community church, Durban.

Fig. 5. Margaret and Petra with Container Ministry food

Very soon I will undergo rehabilitation at the House of LIFE rehab centre in the Bluff, Durban. I just want to learn more about Jesus. I want to forsake my old ways. I want to ask Jesus to come into my life and change me from the inside out. I want to learn about a job so that I can go out and work and earn money to feed my son and pay for his schooling, and live in my own apartment and pay my taxes and help other girls come off drugs and CSW.

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