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Sentencing delayed for prostitution couple

Metala James and Sanele Sanele in court. [Samoa Observer]

A couple in Samoa convicted of four counts of living on the earnings of prostitution have had their sentencing postponed until next week.

The postponement was announced in the District Court on Monday when Metala James, of Malololelei, and Sanele Sanele, of Papaloloa were supposed to be sentenced. Last week, James and Sanele, who were accused of running a prostitution operation using five young girls, were convicted by Judge Mata Tuatagaloa.

James was also found guilty of three charges of procuring sexual intercourse. “After hearing the evidence and considering the law...there is ample evidence that the accused and Sanele knowingly lived wholly or partially on the earnings of the girls [from prostitution],” Her Worship Tuatagaloa said.

“The two accused knew what the girls did for a living and received money from their earnings.” In relation to the other five charges, Her Worship Tuatagaloa said these were dismissed because there was not enough evidence to prove them. Accused of running a prostitution ring out of their home at Malololelei, James and Sanele denied all the charges. They told the Court that the young girls – whose names are supressed - made up the stories.

James told the Court she took the girls in because they had nowhere else to stay. She said she felt sorry for them so she and her partner decided to take them into their home. James disputed the claims about giving the girls money.

She said this was done to pay for their taxi fares to places they wanted to go. Her evidence was supported by Sanele who also told the Court they felt sorry for the girls. But not so, according to the girls during the hearing.

The Court heard they were forced into having sex with men for as little as $20 a session. In one session, one of the girls had sex with three Chinese men for $50. “One day in the month of May, when my husband left for work, Metala told me to come with her to a hotel in Taufusi,” she said.

When they arrived, she said, “I heard Metala talking to this palagi man and [she] told him that it will be for only two minutes.”

“Metala told me to go with this palagi man and do not take long. When we got in the hotel room, the palagi man told me that his name was Michael. After I told her what my name was he took off his clothes and forced me on the bed.

“I told him I didn’t want to do what he wanted but he told me I have to agree because all the girls that came to him all agreed to have sexual intercourse with him. He said the money was already given to Metala.” The money was $30, the witness said.

The second incident was at Sogi, across from the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel. “We went there and sat on the seawall. We saw some Chinese men walking towards us.” The witness said Metala told her to “take on the other Chinese man for $20 and it will only take five minutes.”

When the Court asked the witness how many Chinese men she had sex with that evening, she said “five.” She said the sex took place beneath the trees across from the Tanoa Hotel while “Metala is watching.” The witness said she never received the money because the men always give it to Metala.

Asked if she got any money from Metala, she said “no.” “I am only given food and alcohol from this money and the rest is used by Metala.” Another witness, a 20-year-old girl told the Court she was taken by James to one of the hotels at Togafu’afu’a where she had sexual intercourse with a palagi man three times for $30.

“I was living with Metala and Sanele at Malololelei during the three month period until the police found out what we were doing,” she said.

She testified that for most of the nights, she and the other girls were taken to Sogi. There, they would have sex with three or four Chinese men for $20 a session.



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