IT IS nothing short of a miracle that they’re alive. Former and current prostitutes shared their life stories with Daily Sun.

They’re members of Kwanele, a survivor-led movement incubated at Embrace Dignity and set up by ex-deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge.

The non-profit organisation wants to end prostitution and believes pimps and buyers of sex should face criminal charges – not women driven to prostitution by desperation.

Kwanele said government should empower magoshas rather than treating them like criminals.

Phindiswa Klaas

Their shocking stories include incidents of gang-rape, illegal abortions, murder and HIV.

Julia Kgatlhane

Assaria Sungano (37), originally from Zimbabwe, said she joined her mum in the sex trade when she was 13 to help take care of her siblings.

She said after her mum died, life got difficult and none of her siblings matriculated.

“I tried selling vegetables and tomatoes but didn’t make enough money and went back to the streets. At one point, I got pregnant and performed an abortion on myself in a toilet.”

Assaria said she was opposed to legalising prostitution as it doesn’t empower women.

“My mother was in the sex trade for many years but died with nothing. I also came out empty-handed.”

  • Julia Kgatlhane (45) said she went into the sex trade after her mum died. “My mum was a single parent of six. I went to Rustenburg to look for a job and met a woman who told me it was difficult finding work, and that she made money through prostitution.”

Julia said she became ill in 2017 and was diagnosed with HIV.

  • Linda Ketye (35) from East London said she was a prostitute for a year after struggling to find a job. “Life as a prostitute is difficult. We’re rejected by society and mocked by the police.”
  • Mary Mkando (40) said she was kicked out of her home in Zimbabwe after refusing to marry her brother-in-law when her husband died.

“I met a woman who offered us shelter, but she later pimped me. I managed to escape to South Africa after I was promised a restaurant job, which turned out to be prostitution.

“I’ve been gang-raped in graveyards several times. I was once raped by a police officer. I’ve seen friends murdered in the streets and escaped death at gunpoint.”

  • Nompumelelo Limekhaya (33) from the Eastern Cape said she became a prostitute in matric after her brothers died and her family took on a lot of debt. She said she turned to drugs to cope with the job and was raped by a cop at one point.
  • Phindiswa Klaas from Engcobo, Eastern Cape, said her lover pimped her. She said she was once drugged and raped.
  • Siphindile Cele from Nqabeni, KZN, said she fell pregnant in high school and her lover hooked her up with fancy friends. She said she was sold to sugar daddies and later handed over to a drug trafficker.
  • Sithembile Gumede (36) from Mbumbulu, KZN, said after an uncle raped her when she was 17, she lived with a man who forced her into prostitution.
  • Thulisile Khoza (34) from Soweto said after her dad died she lived on the streets, where she was introduced to prostitution.
  • Zinhle Dlamini (48) from KZN said she was raped by her mum’s man and ran away from home. She became a prostitute and drug addict for 12 years.
Assaria Sungano
Thulisile Khoza
Thulisile Khoza
Nompumelelo Limekhaya
Mary Mkando
Sithembile Gumede
Former and current prostitutes shared their harrowing life stories of prostitution.
Siphindile Cele