A high court in Gqeberha has sentenced three elderly persons, aged between 66 and 68, to several years in prison for trafficking and forcing a minor into marriage.
Bheki Nxasana, Mxosheni Sibiya and Nomvo Nxasana have also been entered into the national register for sex offenders and national child protection register following the arranged marriage of a mentally disabled 13-year-old girl.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Bheki forcefully married the teenager off.
NPA spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said the victim was orphaned and lived with her uncle Sibiya in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu Natal. Sibiya later gave up the teenager to her Sunday school teacher, who was friends with Nomvo, the sister of the would-be husband.
“In 2016, Bheki, with the assistance of Nomvo, initiated lobola negotiations with Sibiya and payments were made. The young girl was made to travel to Gqeberha by taxi,” said Tyali.
“When the victim got to the destination, Bheki took her to his house where he strangled and forcefully had sexual intercourse with her. He told her that he was her husband and he had paid lobola for her, therefore, she had to abide by his wishes and commands.
“The teenager was made to dress in a newly married woman’s [makoti] traditional attire and given a new name for her new role. She was taken to Bheki’s homestead in Mbizana, where she had to live and work as a makoti.”
Tyali explained further: “The victim managed to escape from Bheki with the assistance of his 20-year-old daughter and older step-daughter, who assisted her to report the matter to the police on April 24 2017, followed by his arrest.
“During the trial, all the accused claimed that they were not aware of the girl’s age when they entered her into a customary marriage, and were not aware that they were acting unlawfully.
The court sentenced Bheki to whom the victim was forcefully married to 18 years and 15 years on counts of rape, respectively.
“The three were further all sentenced to nine years imprisonment, of which four years were suspended for three years, and six years imprisonment, of which two years were suspended for three years, on a charge of trafficking in persons for concluding a forced marriage for purpose of exploitation.”
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