After the strict Coronavirus outbreak restrictions announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa which starts at midnight tonight, prostitutes in Milnerton say business has already dried up as clients fear infection.
In his address, Ramaphosa said most businesses would be shut with the exception of those that are deemed essential, including pharmacies, laboratories, banks, supermarkets, and petrol stations among others.
A 31-year-old mom of two, who stands on Koeberg Road to solicit clients, says she has no other way of paying her rent or providing for her children.
“I came here from Kimberley and have looked for work, but cannot find anything, but keep looking,” she says.
“I have been working on the streets for two years and I am worried about the shutdown because how will we get money for bread?
“I am scared I could get the virus from a client so I went to get tested and it was negative.”
A 48-year-old sex worker, who was cleaning her hands with sanitiser while soliciting clients, says business has already slowed down as clients are bang.
“It is already having an impact and there is less business on the road. Clients who have to fly in from other countries - they ain’t coming anymore,” she says.
“Those are our big-paying clients and they pay my rent for an entire month.
“With the shutdown we can’t be on the street and we are worried. I have four children to feed.”
The woman, who has been working the streets of Cape Town for three years, says she has no way of getting an income as private clients will require her to travel.
“With the shutdown, if a client calls me and I have to travel, will I be able to go?
“I am probably going to be stopped and asked where to. It is hectic. There is a big concern.”
She says their trade requires close physical contact with clients, but she has become strict in terms of hygiene.
“Most of the time I always have sanitiser in my handbag and with the breathing, I am just like, ‘no dude, don’t breathe or sweat on me’,” she says as she whips out a bottle of sanitiser and a packet of banana-flavoured condoms.
She says most sex workers have not reduced their prices.
According to a statement by the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), they are anticipating an increase in requests for help from sex workers.
“We are aware that that the impact of this virus is likely to have a devastating impact on sex workers - not only because of the vulnerability of sex workers to illness but the impact on their livelihoods and general welfare is likely to be enormous," the statement read.
“We are planning for an anticipated influx of requests for help over the next few weeks and are asking partners and the public to support these efforts.”
The organisation is running a donation campaign on their website and called on sex workers requiring help to call 0800 60 60 60.