On Wednesday, the Port Elizabeth High Court was hearing a case of a mentally disabled girl who was forced into child marriage at the age of 13. She was sent to Port Elizabeth by her own uncle to live with her 61-year-old husband, clean the house, cook and get raped every night.
The girl, who is now 15-years-old, testified that she had to move to her uncle’s house in Stanger, Kwazulu-Natal, after her parents died. The man repeatedly beat her, and she hardly attended school.
After meeting a 63-year-old woman at church, the child went to live with the her daughter in Bizana, Eastern Cape, where she managed to complete Grade 5. However, next year the girl was told she would no longer need to attend school. Instead, she was to be taught the “laws, practicals and principles” of a married woman.
Once she learnt how to clean and cook, a 61-year-old man – the brother of the elderly woman – bought the child. He sent money to the house and instructed the girl to take a taxi to Shakaskraal, where she met her uncle.
“My uncle told me I am no longer a child and I am going to be a wife. My uncle told me I am going to be [the man’s] wife as he had already paid for labola,” she testified.
After that, every day was the same. She would spend her time cooking, cleaning and watching TV while her husband was at work. At bedtime, the elderly man would rape her.
The uncle of a girl, along with her “husband” and his sister are charged with human trafficking and concluding a forced marriage for purposes of exploitation. The husband faces two additional charges of rape.
All three pleaded not guilty to most of the charges. The uncle entered a plea of guilty to a charge of trafficking in persons.
The names are not disclosed to protect the identity of the girl.
The trial continues.