Men shy away from SAPS meeting on ukuthwala

2011-09-01 00:00

MEN from the Bergville area stayed away from a community meeting called by the SAPS yesterday to address the practice of ukuthwala which is rife in that area.

Ukuthwala is when a man abducts a girl — in most cases against her will — for the purposes of marriage.

The practice is often condoned as a cultural practice.

In the Bergville area, there have been complaints, especially among school teachers, that the practice was disrupting schooling as some of the children targeted were as young as 12 years old.

If her family agrees to the compensation offered by her abductor, she is pushed into that marriage.

Addressing the handful of parents that attended the meeting, Provincial Commissioner Mamunye Ngobeni said she was disappointed that the men from the area, seen as the main culprits in the practice, had decided to shy away from the meeting.

Ngobeni said, “It is greatly disappointing that the men whom I was hoping to address on this meeting have decided not to attend.”

She said it was also disappointing that the practice was continuing in that area.

She said last week another girl (17) was abducted. A case was opened with the police and the police reunited the girl with her family.

Her abductor allegedly paid compensation to her parents and the parents decided to send her back to her abductor.

Since 2000, there have been 52 cases of abduction that have been opened with the police in KwaZulu-Natal, but only five of those cases are still active. There have been unspecified convictions and the rest of the cases were withdrawn.

Deputy National Police Commissioner and also the SAPS COO Christine Mgwenya said abduction was a crime and not part of culture.

Mgwenya said, “Parents should realise that when they allow their children to marry young with no education and no life skills thinking those children will be well off, they are wrong as this will actually perpetuates the cycle of poverty.”

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