An unsuspecting house in Sunford was swarming with police on Friday morning after it was discovered that there was a web cam sex chat business operating from the premises.
The sting was operated by the Multi Discipline Task Team that included the Department of Health and Town and Planning official, as well as Phoenix SAPS. The house, known locally as the ‘Whitehouse’, has been home to the business that employs at least 16 women since 2010.
The outbuilding holds several stalls fitted out with beds and a computer with a camera, which is used to entertain clientele over the web in a chat room.
Residents who were on scene said they had no idea about what was going on as the company promoted itself as a call centre.
One resident, who wished to remain anonymous said, “We knew that there was something operating from the house, but we could not be sure what it was. We would see a lot of women go there, so we did wonder.” The residents state that they have no real issue with what these women are doing but feel concerned about the impression it will leave on young girls growing up in the area.
The licensing department’s Chief Inspector, Dees Sooknan said, “While operating this sort of business is not illegal, the way that this one has been operating is not legitimate. The owner did not have the correct planning permission to operate from these premises. The operator will be charged with various contraventions and the business will be closed.”
The sign at the front of the house states that the business is focused on data capturing but the name of the company operating is called ‘International Naughty Chatting.’ The owner, who wishes to be called Sheila, said, “My business is legitimate. I am guilty of not getting the right commercial licence. All the ladies who work here are verified as being 18 years of age and above. All the women choose to be here and are happy to stay.”
The Phoenix Sun journalist spoke to the women who were present. One employee called Sharon* claimed that she took this job out of desperation after she could not afford to look after her children. She said, “I was really struggling and one of my children got temporarily taken into care. Thanks to the wage I earn here, I can afford to look after my children who now live with me. One has even finished matric. I am finally able to look after myself and don’t feel that there is anything wrong with what we do here.”
Many of the girls shared similar tales of hardship such as escaping abusive relationships and finding themselves on the street, with no job or education. Working as a chat host can earn them at least R3, 000 a month, with the potential for more money, depending on their clientele. Boss, Sheila added, “I do what I do to keep these women employed. Some did not have the means to support their families and now they do. We are proud of ourselves, even though we know that some people will not understand.”
Sheila, a former web chat hostess who married one of her former clients, is clear that her business is not an escort establishment and no physical contact takes place between the clientele and the girls. “I want people to know that we are not prostitutes. That is not what this business is about. The ladies of the web chat only host, that’s all,” added Sheila.
One of the young women claimed that she is a virgin, despite her chosen career. She said, “Not all men want sex. Some just want to chat to you and flatter you.” The employees want the stigma surrounding this type of work to be removed and for it to be considered a job like any other, complete with start, finish and break times.
Ward Cllr Tino Pillay, who was at the scene said, “We discovered this operation after we received a tip-off. I am appalled that something like this has been operating in our area. This is not something that we want to see in the community.” The matter has been placed with the authorities for further investigation.
You might be interested in the following articles as well:
Visit our sister sites for more news in the respective areas: