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Cape Town -
Mvumeleni Jezile, who was convicted for the trafficking and rape of an Eastern Cape teenager during an arranged marriage, has been granted leave to appeal his conviction and 22-year jail sentence.
Wynberg Regional Court Magistrate Daleen Greyvensteyn granted the appeals on Friday while declining to grant Jezile bail.
Jezile’s case is the first ukuthwala case in the Western Cape.
It is also the harshest sentenced imposed in this country for human trafficking.
The 32-year-old appeared in court on Friday dressed in orange Correctional Services prison overalls.
He kidnapped a 14-year-old girl in 2010, forced her into marriage and raped and assaulted her.
Jezile was found guilty of trafficking, three counts of rape, and two counts of assault.
At the weekend, the ANC Women’s League welcomed the sentencing, saying that the “days of abducting innocent young girls and turning them into wives by force were over”.
“The ANC fought for the rights of women and children to an extent that the cabinet approved a women empowerment and gender equality bill which is in the process of being made law,” ANCWL spokeswoman Edna Molewa said.
“Ukuthwala is a practice that should never be allowed to continue in this day and age and under our hard-fought democratic dispensation, where all people are equal, irrespective of gender.”
The practice involves the abduction of women and under-aged girls and leads to forced marriage.
His victim said she was kidnapped from her home in Ngcobo, Eastern Cape, and forced by her grandmother to marry Jezile.
She escaped from him and returned home, but her family forced her to return to him.
She told the court that Jezile had assaulted her when she refused to have sex with him.
In November, KwaZulu-Natal traditional affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube signed a pledge denouncing ukuthwala. It was also signed by Commission for Gender Equality chairman Mfanozelwe Shozi, provincial House of Traditional Leaders chairman Inkosi Chiliza, and KwaZulu-Natal Council of Churches chairman Bishop Mike Vorster.
They agreed the practice should take place only if both parties consented and the woman was of marrying age – 18 under South African law.
During the pledge signing, it was announced that the National Prosecuting Authority would also charge the parents of under-aged girls who agreed to their children being forcefully married.
Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Friday encouraged victims of ukuthwala to lay charges of kidnapping, rape and trafficking so that the perpetrators could face the law.
He told them to apply for a protection order under the Domestic Violence Act against family members involved in the abductions.