And the council says it will shut down the Chinese-run guesthouse for operating as a brothel.
Thabc Guesthouse, situated in the central business area, has also been operating under the brand name Mama’s Chicken Restaurant.
A team of council public health officials, in the company of council police commandant Paul Chipulu, stormed the premises on Thursday to check on operations at the guesthouse following a tip-off.
The guesthouse consists of 10 rooms and is run by Che Zhong Mey.
The premises operates with valid council certificates of a guesthouse, but without a health permit.
Chipulu and his team went round the premises, knocking on doors, and in the process disturbing some clients.
Some of the clients refused to open their doors upon hearing that council officials had stormed the guesthouse.
Following persistent knocks on Room 9, a man opened to attend to the officials.
“Nabwela kuno na girlfriend wanga elo nalipila che 70 pin. Nalipila short time, three hours chabe, elo tikalibe kuciliza (I came here with my girlfriend, I paid K70 to use the room for three hours, and we haven’t even enjoyed ourselves),” he told the officials.
And another visibly shaken and stammering man from Room 5, who was trying to dispose of used condoms he held in his hand, informed the officials that he was not given a receipt after paying K80 to use the room for about four hours with his partner.
“Our details were not recorded anywhere, we just paid and we were ushered to this room. Our business is done and now we want to go,” he said.
Meanwhile, some couples who were found waiting for occupied rooms to be vacated, abandoned the premises after discovering that the public health and council officials wanted to inspect the premises.
Some workers who were also found at the restaurant and guesthouse also fled, fearing arrest by the officials.
However, one of the employees said rooms were rented out to individuals for up to K80 per three hours and K120 a night.
“We do not offer long-term accommodation here. Our accommodation is on short-term basis – that is per three hours – and now prices for our rooms have been increased from K60 to K70 and K80 depending on the quality of the room,” the worker, who sought anonymity, said.
“If they want to spend a night here, they have to book the rooms around 17:00 hours to 18:00 hours at K120 and there are rooms with double beds.”
A shocked Chipulu and the inspectors expressed displeasure at the unhygienic conditions of the guesthouse.
Chipula said the local authority would not tolerate guesthouses that were putting the lives of many people at risk of contracting diseases.
“Look at this bathtub, look at showers and the toilets, they are just too dirty and one cannot believe that they are being used by human beings. We can also confirm that this is truly a brothel because the customers themselves have confirmed their activities to us,” said Chipulu.
And Mey, who was ordered to meet the officials at the civic centre, pleaded with them not to close the guesthouse, and promised to improve the sanitary conditions.
“Please madam, give me second chance. I do not know that guesthouse is brothel. I didn’t know that,” said Mey.
And Mulunda said brothels were illegal in Zambia, adding that the local authority would soon surrender the matter to the courts of law for Mey to defend himself.
“We have started the documentation process and we will be writing to the owner of the guesthouse on the charge we have levelled against him and the matter will have to go to court especially that there is the operation of a brothel which is illegal,” he said.
He added that the local authority had obtained enough evidence from customers that were using the rooms.
“For us we know that the man was operating a brothel though he is trying to deny this because a lodge to us must be a decent place where people can go to sleep and spend some time without anyone counting hours for you,” said Mulunda. “Anything operating below lodge standards is a brothel and those are things we are contending with, and he is arguing. We will know how to deal with him, and with evidence overwhelming, we are just taking the matter to court.”