Sex shop attempts to reopen on Parliament's doorstep

Adult World sex toy chain has reopened a store just outside the gates of Parliament. (David Harrison, M&G)

Adult World sex toy chain has reopened a store just outside the gates of Parliament. (David Harrison, M&G)

Members of Parliament are in for a naughty surprise when they return to work next week. The controversial Adult World sex toy chain is set to reopen a store just outside the gates of Parliament 10 years after a similar attempt failed in 2004.

The Film and Publication Board ordered the store to shut down in August 2004 and again in October 2004, following complaints from ANC MPs who said its existence so close to Parliament would “horribly taint” the image of the legislature.

This is a third attempt to open the store – a shop specialising in adult videos, magazines and “toys” – about 50 metres from the legislature and it is not clear why the company thinks it would be successful this time around. Adult World chief executive Francois Joubert’s office said he was the only person who could comment on the matter, but that he was not available for comment on Monday afternoon.

The ANC, however, has not changed its stance.

Spokersperson for the ANC caucus Moloto Mothapo said it was not appropriate to have “that kind of trade” around Parliament. “It doesn’t augur well with Parliament. You don’t want a place around the vicinity of Parliament that would lead to the degeneration of the stature of Parliament,” he said.

“Today it’s a sex shop, what would it be tomorrow?” he said.

‘Not correct’
The Adult World’s Plein Street premises closed in August 2004 after ANC MPs complained it was “not correct” for such a business to operate from there. At the time, then chairperson of Parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee Patrick Chauke said Adult World had not obtained a licence to operate from the Cape Town licensing authority. 

“The committee is of the opinion that it is a misapplication of the regulations to allow this type of business to operate right next to Parliament, a church and schools,” he said. 

Adult World South Africa managing director Arthur Calamaras told Independent Newspapers at the time the store had followed the correct legal procedures and had applied for a relocation licence. 

“Many schoolchildren walk past this shop every morning and afternoon and St Mary’s Catholic Church is also in the street,” said Chauke. He called for the policy that regulates the location of adult shops to be reviewed, as there were “loopholes” in the Film and Publications Act that “allowed these shops to operate too liberally”.

Then ANC chief whip Mbulelo Goniwe, who was later dismissed by the party after being found guilty of sexual harassment, also opposed the opening of the sex shop, saying: “We oppose the operation of Adult World in the vicinity of Parliament as a matter of principle.”

The Democratic Alliance criticised the ANC, with DA MP Sandy Kalyan saying at the time that parliamentarians should be more concerned about the “moral decay” inside Parliament such as the travel scam, instead of focusing on what was happening outside.

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