“Lolly Town” – A Special Assignment Investigation

special+assignment+LogoIt’s called a Lolly lounge, or Suiker-huis. It’s a name commonly known in predominantly coloured communities like Eldorado Park and Westbury in Johannesburg – a standard house or flat, usually rented, where young girls are lured in with free drug fixes and then led into a life of prostitution and drug addiction. The name – lolly lounge – is derived from the glass pipe/popper bottle used to smoke drugs like crystal meth and tik which is shaped like a lollipop.

This week’s episode of Special Assignment exposes what happens in these lolly lounges. Our investigation reveals that many of the young women, who have been dragged into prostitution and drug abuse inside these lolly lounges, are often reported as missing by their families. In reality they are being sexually exploited by criminals and gangsters inside these drug hubs.

The most common drugs used to hook these girls include heroin and mandrax, as well as crystal meth (cat) and tik. Once the girls are hooked on these drugs, they have to pay their way sexually and are used to trap men to spend more money on drugs in these drug dens through prostitution.

The so-called tournaments, where one girl has sex with many men for a fix, are the norm in these lounges. Our investigation shows that the accepted ‘exchange’ is that one round of sex with a man equals one hit from a lolly pipe.

Dereleen James counselling a Tik addict
Dereleen James counselling a Tik addict

These lounges, which are usually run by drug syndicates, are spreading rapidly in the Gauteng province. We discover that they are found in townships including, but not limited to, Eldorado Park, Soweto, Crown Gardens, Fordsburg, Florida, Bosmont, Springs, Ennerdale and Westbury. The highest concentration of the lounges is in Eldorado Park where during our investigation, we discovered 40 lolly lounges within a radius of 100 kilometers.

In 2013, Dereleen James, a distraught mother of a drug abuser who has since turned into an anti-drug activist, made an impassioned plea to President Jacob Zuma to intervene. The response was heightened police visibility and wide scale arrests of drug dealers. Up to 20 lolly lounges were closed down and raided between May and July 2013. For a while it seemed that the battle was over, but soon the lounges started resurfacing and today the problem remains. We return to the area to investigate this scourge which is degrading and killing young men and women in these townships.

Watch “LOLLY TOWN” produced by Lee McCabe. It will be broadcast on Special Assignment – aired Sundays on SABC3 at 20:30pm and Repeated Mondays at 23:30PM.

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