Johannesburg - The sentencing of a man to 22 years behind bars for being linked to the ukuthwala practice will serve as a deterrent, the Commission for Gender Equality said on Friday.
“Having been found guilty on all counts, we believe, is a reason enough for the judge to give the 22-year sentence, as this will serve as a deterrent to the would-be human traffickers in our society,” the commission said in a statement.
“We appreciate the fact that the precedent set by this case would encourage other victims of ukuthwala to stand up for their rights.”
On Thursday, Wynberg Regional Court magistrate Daleen Greyvensteyn sentenced Mvumeleni Jezile, 32, to 22 years behind bars, The Star newspaper reported.
He kidnapped a 14-year-old girl in 2010 and forcefully married, raped and assaulted her.
Jezile was found guilty of trafficking, three counts of rape, and two counts of assault.
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 Jezile had assaulted her when she refused to have sex with him.
The commission called on men and families to distance themselves from ukuthwala.
The practice, which is associated with some African traditions, involves the kidnapping of women and under-aged girls, and leads to forced marriage.
“The CGE therefore welcomes the 22-year jail sentence handed to Jezile.”
Women and Children Minister Lulu Xingwana welcomed the sentence.
“The historic sentencing demonstrates that this government is serious about protecting its children and fighting harmful practices such as ukuthwala and human trafficking,” she said in a statement.
“The family members who were involved in arranging the marriage between the man and the 14-year-old girl should also face the law.”
The ukuthwala practice had a detrimental effect on the growth and development of the girl child as they were denied an opportunity to enjoy their childhood and grow into mature women, she said.