boy of 17 to wed girl (14)

KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Zweli Mkhize and the province's police commissioner Mamunye Ngobeni were yesterday trying to stop the imminent wedding of a 17-year-old boy to a 14-year-old girl.

KWAZULU-NATAL Premier Zweli Mkhize and the province's police commissioner Mamunye Ngobeni were yesterday trying to stop the imminent wedding of a 17-year-old boy to a 14-year-old girl.

Ngobeni said it had come to her attention that the bridegroom's family had paid ilobolo to the girl's parents on Tuesday. She is from Shongweni, outside Pinetown.

Mkhize's office had asked Ngobeni to intervene urgently.

Police spokesperson Director Phindile Radebe said a team of police investigators had been sent to take statements from the parents of both the bride and groom.

"The matter was reported to us and the police are busy taking statements as we speak. The statements will be taken to the prosecutor, who will decide what to do," Radebe said.

Mkhize's spokesperson Ndabezinhle Sibiya said the premier's office had been informed that the parents had given their consent and that ilobolo had been paid.

He said it was believed the girl and boy were living together. It was not known if the girl was pregnant, Sibiya said.

Childline's Joanne van Niekerk said the parents should encourage both teenagers to wait.

She said their marriage, if it took place, would not be legal.

"The marriage will not be legal because they are both under age. If there is a sexual relationship, it would be a crime because the girl is still under age," she said.

Van Niekerk warned that the dangers of marrying at a young age, particularly for girls, included not completing schooling and falling pregnant.

She pointed out that a 14-year-old was not emotionally and psychologically ready for parenthood and marriage.

"This is very risky for the child's well being," Van Niekerk said.

Sibiya said Mkhize had called on communities, non-governmental organisations, volunteers, the media and the private sector to embark on a national campaign to prevent teenage pregnancy. - Sapa

X