Three South Africans Were On Wednesday Sentenced For Forced Marriage, Rape And Trafficking Of A 13-year-old Girl
Gqeberha High Court sentenced three elderly men to direct imprisonment for their involvement in the forced marriage of a “mildly mentally disabled” 13-year-old girl, on Wednesday.
Bheki Nxasana, 66, Mxosheni Sibiya, 67, and Nomvo Nxasana, 68, are accused of arranging the forced marriage of a young orphaned girl.
“Evidence is that the victim was orphaned and, as a result, lived with her uncle, Sibiya, in KwaDukuza in KwaZulu Natal.
"Her uncle gave her up to her Sunday school teacher, who was friends with Nomvo, the sister of the would-be husband [Bheki],” said National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali.
Nomvo took the girl to her daughter in Mbizana, Eastern Cape, where Bheki is also from. He was employed in Gqeberha at the time.
“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 the NPA
Bheki took the victim to his residence and strangled her before raping her when she arrived in Gqeberha.
He then informed her that he was her husband and that he had paid lobola for her. Bheki told her to obey his wants and demands.
“The teenager was made to dress in a newly married woman’s (makoti) traditional attire and given a new name for her new role.
"After a while, she was taken to Bheki’s homestead in Mbizana, where she had to live and work as a makoti.
“When she befriended her agemates, Bheki scolded her and ordered that she be returned to his Greenbushes home in Gqeberha, where he raped her again,” said Tyali.
The victim was eventually able to flee Bheki with the assistance of the accused's 20-year-old daughter and his older stepdaughter.
On April 24, 2017, the older woman reported the incident to authorities, and Bheki was arrested shortly after.
“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,” said the NPA spokesperson.
Advocate Zelda Swanepoel, who is currently the Deputy Director of Prosecutions in the Western Cape, claimed that the victim's ordeal left her traumatized for life.
The girl had lost her parents, freedom, dignity, self-worth, and childhood, according to the prosecutor. She is also impoverished.
The court agreed and highlighted the extent of her trauma during the judgement.
“The three were 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 exploitation,” said the NPA.
Bheki was sentenced to 18 years in jail on one count of rape and 15 years on the other. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently by the court.
As a result, Bheki will be imprisoned for an effective 18 years, while Nomvo and Sibiya will be imprisoned for five years.
The court also ordered that their names be added to the National Sex Offenders Registry and the National Child Protection Registry.
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