The body corporate of a block of flats in Longmarket Street says Paradise Penthouse, an alleged brothel that operated on the 6th floor of the building until it was closed several years ago, is back under a new guise and causing headaches for tenants and neighbours.
The body corporate at Huys Heeren says it alerted the police, the City of Cape Town and the Department of Community Safety about problem, but the authorities have so far failed to act and have been tight-lipped about the situation.
The alleged brothel, now called Papa G’s Guest House, was originally home to “massage parlour” Paradise Penthouse, which was closed in 2012 following a police sting operation in which an alleged sex worker was arrested along with a night shift manager and receptionist (“No more paradise at the penthouse,” CapeTowner, August 16 2012).
Now, the body corporate says it is facing the same problems with Papa G’s, and despite letters to Premier Helen Zille’s office and Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, authorities have failed to act.
In response to detailed questions about the “guest house”, the City’s director of safety and security, Richard Bosman, said: “We will have our staff follow up to ascertain the veracity of the allegations.”
The Central City Improvement District’s management declined to comment on the matter, as the building is privately owned.
The Cape Town Central police and the Department of Community Safety did not respond to detailed questions from the CapeTowner, despite several follow-ups.
Rene Luedemann, on behalf of the body corporate, told the CapeTowner that the situation at Huys Hereen had become so bad it was a struggle to rent out two of the floors because people knew the reputation of the building.
“This is known as a problematic house. We even had to send my daughter to boarding school because it became too dangerous for her to live here.”
He said he and some of his relatives owned three floors in the building, and his father in-law lived on the premises.
“We have cameras on the premises, and the footage shows people entering the building at all hours of the night, as well as through the fire escape. The cameras also show the number of woman, presumably prostitutes, that gather outside of the building every night.”
Mr Leudemann said: “We have written several letters to all of the security role-players, but none of them seem interested. The Department of Community Safety told us that they will investigate, but nothing was done. We even sent letters to the city manager, and a good relationship with Brackenfell police helped us get some assistance, but Cape Town Central police did not offer their support. We have a number of affidavits, and we even have tenants calling armed response almost daily because of fights erupting on the 6th floor.”
In the letters to Ms Zille and Mr Plato, copies of which were sent to the CapeTowner, the body corporate’s chairman Prince Friedrich Wilhelm von Sayn-Wittgenstein, details problems experienced with the “guesthouse” including vandalism and patrons urinating and defecating on common property.
Used condoms, syringes and illegal drugs had been bound in and around the building and, in some cases, they had blocked the building’s drains, he said.
“Huys Heeren is no longer a safe place as the residents are afraid and feel at risk for their lives,” wrote Prince Von Sayn-Wittgenstein.
Mr Leudemann said Papa G’s was using Paradise Penthouse’s liquor licence and that the floor had been let to the former managers of Paradise Penthouse. “It is illegally run, and the building is not zoned for a guest house. It’s against the law,” he said.
The CapeTowner visited Papa G’s Guesthouse, where reporters found a room with condoms scattered on the floor and what looked like the butt of a dagga joint and an empty “bankie” bag, often used to hold drugs.
At the time of print, the CBD ward councillor Dave Bryant and Cape Town Central police spokesman Captain Ezra October were planning to meet with the body corporate to discuss the matter.
Mr Bryant said: “I have visited the place when it was Paradise Penthouse, which was closed down in 2012. I haven’t received any complaints regarding Papa G’s, but I would assume that it is the same modus operandi.
“We have to face reality that this is an international CBD and we are bound to have problems like this arise, it’s how we manage it that is important. That is why incidents need to be reported.”
The CapeTowner contacted Trevor Potgieter, the owner of the floor, to ask if he was aware of the activities at Papa G’s, to which he responded: “If someone meets women somewhere for a drink and they take them to a hotel, is that hotel classified as a brothel?”
He said the business had a valid liquor licence and referred the CapeTowner to his lawyers, saying: “You should get your facts straight. I’m not talking anymore.”