- Three people were sentenced to direct imprisonment for human trafficking.
- They conspired to marry off a 13-year-old girl to a 66-year-old man.
- The teen lived with her uncle in KZN, but relocated to Gqeberha to live with her "husband".
The Gqeberha High Court sentenced Bheki Nxasana, Mxosheni Sibiya and Nomvo Nxasana for human trafficking, related to the forced marriage of a 13-year-old girl.
The orphaned teen was married off to 66-year-old Bheki Nxasana in 2016, according to NPA spokesperson Luxolo Tyali.
The teen lived in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, with her uncle, Mxosheni, 67, after her parents died.
However, he gave her to a Sunday school teacher, who was a friend of Nomvo.
She relocated to Mbizana, in the Eastern Cape where she lived with Nomvo, before Bheki could pay Sibiya the lobola in 2016. Nomvo and Bheki handled the lobola negotiations with Mxosheni.
The teen's ordeal began after she relocated to Gqeberha, where she lived with Bheki.
Tyali said Bheki strangled and raped the teen and demanded she abide by his demands because she was his "wife".
Tyali said: "He told her that he was now her husband and he had paid lobola for her. Therefore, she had to abide by his wishes and commands. The teenager was dressed in a newly married woman's 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 wife."
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In 2017, the teen escaped and reported the abuse, with the help of Nxasana's daughter and stepdaughter.
"During the trial, all the accused claimed 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 Tyali.
Nxasana was sentenced to 15 and 18 years on two rape charges. The sentences will run concurrently, meaning he will serve 18 years.
His accomplices were sentenced to nine years each, but will serve five years after four years were suspended.
They will also be added to the National Register for Sex Offenders and National Child Protection Register.