Father and 'son-in-law' arrested for abduction of child bride

Picture Credit: www.todayonline.com
Picture Credit: www.todayonline.com

A 14-year-old child bride who contemplated suicide when pleas to her family were rejected has been rescued from the man she was sold to.

The price for the ‘bride’ was 15 sheep and her consent was not sought under the practice known as ukuthwala — the tradition of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage.

On Tuesday‚ 9 June 2015 members from the Pinetown Family Violence‚ Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit arrested two suspects aged 26 and 39 years for rape‚ abduction and accomplice to abduction in Bugs Farm‚ Hammersdale. Both suspects were scheduled to appear in the Hammersdale Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.

According to police‚ in January this year‚ the 14-year-old girl was at home in Umthatha‚ in the Eastern Cape when a mini bus drove up to her house with a few males who allegedly took her away by force. She was taken to a house in the same province where she was shown a man and informed that he was her new husband.

A few days later‚ fifteen sheep were sent to the girl’s family by the so-called husband.

The young girl contacted her parents who informed her that she was at her new home and that man she was with would take care of her.

The so-called husband left the Eastern Cape and returned to KwaZulu-Natal where he was employed‚ leaving his new ‘bride’ behind in the Eastern Cape. The young girl informed her parents that she was unhappy with the arrangement. The mother then took her to a farm in Hammersdale in Kwazulu-Natal where she left her after telling her that she must tell her new ‘husband’ herself that she was not happy with him. 

The man however was adamant that he had paid for her and that she must perform wifely duties. On the evening of May 6‚ the girl contemplated committing suicide. She was discovered sitting in the dark by a neighbour. When the so-called husband found her in the neighbour’s room the following morning‚ he allegedly beat her. But she managed to make a call to the police‚ who took her to a place of safety and opened a case of rape and abduction.

“The case was handed to the Pinetown Family Violence‚ Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit for further investigation. After interviewing the victim they discovered that the 26-year-old ‘husband’ has had four sexual relations with the victim. The members arrested the father (39) of a girl in the nearby farm for being an accomplice during the abduction and also arrested his ‘son-in-law’ for four counts of rape and abduction‚” police said.

KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner‚ Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni applauded the members for the arrest of the suspects.

“We cannot tolerate people who are forcing their young children to get involved in marriages. I discourage those parents who sacrifice the lives of their daughters to get marry so that they will get lobola‚” she said.

The prevalence of ukuthwala‚ despite being outlawed‚ led to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Communities making recommendations to parliament last year.

Earlier this year Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women‚ Susan Shabangu‚ welcomed as “significant” a ruling on ukuthwala‚ in which the full bench of the appeal court in the Western Cape High Court rejected the appeal by Mvumeleni Jezile (33) who was last year sentenced to 22 years imprisonment after he was convicted of three counts of rape‚ one count of human trafficking and one count of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. He had forcefully married a 14-year-old girl from the Eastern Cape who was in Grade 7.

“Cultural practices can no longer be used to violate the rights of women and children and thus perpetuate inequalities in our society‚” Shabangu said.

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