Port Elizabeth – An orphaned 14-year-old girl was allegedly married off to a pensioner by her uncle for R30 000, Port Elizabeth police said on Friday.
Spokesperson Captain Anelisa Feni said that, when the teenager’s parents died in November 2015, she was left in the care of her 62-year-old uncle in KwaDukuza also known as Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal.
However, for a bride price of R30 000, the uncle forced her to marry a 61-year-old man from Bizana in the Eastern Cape, as part of the controversial tradition of “ukuthwala”.
Ukuthwala is an old tradition of kidnapping a girl for marriage, but with her consent, and sometimes to save the groom from having to raise a hefty bride price. Nothing is finalised until certain rituals have been complied with.
However, the departments of justice and social development have noted an alarming trend of kidnapping girls from poor or vulnerable families, merely for them to provide sex and house cleaning duties for old men.
They are running a campaign to stamp out the practice, and to make girls and families aware of their rights.
Feni said that, when the girl was married off, she was sent to Port Elizabeth to live with the old man, who allegedly sexually abused her.
This lasted from September 2016, until he was arrested for trafficking in March. He was released on bail of R5 000.
In a follow-up operation, her 62-year-old old uncle who was supposed to be looking after her and a woman were arrested in Stanger on Monday by the serious organised crime unit of the Hawks.
They were taken to Port Elizabeth to appear in the New Law Court on Thursday.
The two were expected to appear in court again on Friday to apply for bail.
Meanwhile, the child is being cared for at a safe house in the Eastern Cape.