Last updated on Jan 20th, 2015 at 07:46 pm
Veena Budhram, former manager of the Inn Town Lodge and the Down Town Lodge in Durban, told the court Sandile Patrick Zweni had complained the fee the girls were charged for bringing their clients to the hotel was too expensive.
At one stage the girls were being brought into the hotel through a back gate that had been broken open.
Dr Genchen Rugnath, his wife Ravina, Zweni, Nonduzo Dlamini and Bhabha Dubazini have all pleaded not guilty to 156 charges, including assault, rape, sexual exploitation of a child, and racketeering.
Zweni allegedly ran a prostitution ring from the Inn Town Lodge
Rugnath has claimed he knew nothing about prostitution at the lodge, in the Point Road area, which is known as a red-light district, and that he left the running of the hotel to Budhram. His wife claimed she was a housewife with no involvement in running the hotel.
Budhram told the court the women had to pay “an additional amount of R20 apart from the room amount being paid” to use the rooms for two hours. Zweni however stopped paying the money.
She then received a complaint that the girls were bringing their clients in without paying. When the security guard was sent in to remove the clients, the girls started bringing them in through the back gate.
After reporting the broken gate to Rugnath, Budhram said she had a meeting with Zweni.
“I asked accused number one why the back gate was damaged or broken. He told me he is allowing his clients to go though [to the rooms].
“When I asked him why he broke the chain, he said he was losing business,” said Budhram.
The stand-off over about R12,500 in unpaid fees led to Zweni operating from other venues.
“When he [Zweni] was chased out accused number four [Rugnath] went through the black book at reception. He told me that we are not getting any income at this place now. He told me we need to do something. He told me I must try and see if I can get accused number one [Zweni] back.”
She said she contacted Zweni and negotiated his return to the Inn Town Lodge
Budhram said there were numerous incidents involving the police at Inn Town Lodge. On one occasion she was called to the hotel to find it had been trashed. Numerous doors had been broken and keys, books, and files had been seized, allegedly during a police raid.
“The whole place was a mess,” she said, adding that when she arrived she found the receptionist in tears.
She was instructed to report the matter to police, but nothing was ever heard of it again.
On another occasion police arrested the receptionist for selling alcohol. The hotel did not have a liquor licence and she had to pay R1500 in bail to get the receptionist released.
During Wednesday’s proceedings lawyers for Rugnath and his wife repeatedly objected to Budhram’s evidence, saying that it was hearsay and inadmissible.
The trial continues.