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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 16:59 GMT
SA call to legalise prostitution
A sex worker in Durban's Point Road
Prostitutes may have to pay tax during the World Cup
South African MP George Lekgetho has called for prostitution to be legalised for the duration of the football World Cup to be held in the country in 2010.

"It is one of the things that would make it a success," the ruling African National Congress parliamentarian said.

It would help cut the incidences of rape and would bring in taxes to fight poverty, he told his colleagues.

The opposition Democratic Alliance criticised the idea but a group representing sex workers welcomed it.

"We would support any legalisation of sex work, particularly during the 2010 World Cup," Nicola Fick from Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force told the BBC.

"Our position is that it's going to be in the best interest of the sex workers and the government if the police no longer arrest women for this crime."

Chuckles

Mr Lekgetho made his comments after a presentation by the Arts and Culture Department to a parliamentary committee on its plans for social cohesion for 2010.

"If sex working is legalised people would not do things in the dark. That would bring us tax and would improve the lives of those who are not working," the South African Press Association quotes him as saying.

The BBC's Mpho Lakaje in Johannesburg says his suggestion was met with groans of protest and chuckles from other MPs.

The idea of legalising sex work was first proposed last year by police commissioner Jackie Selebi, who has since been suspended to face corruption charges.

But Mr Lekgetho only called for its legalisation for the duration of the football tournament.

Meanwhile, our correspondent says there are growing concerns that power cuts across the country are delaying preparations for the international spectacle.

South Africa has in the last few weeks been hit by rolling black outs.

But the World Cup organising committee has expressed confidence the tournament will go ahead as planned.

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