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Johannesburg - The ANC Women's league on Saturday welcomed the sentencing of a man to 22 years in jail for being linked to the ukuthwala practice in the Western Cape.
“Days of abducting innocent young girls and turning them into wives by force were over,” ANCWL spokeswoman Edna Molewa said in a statement.
“The ANC fought for the rights of women and children to an extent that Cabinet approved a women empowerment and gender equality bill which is in the process of being made law,” she 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, which is associated with some African traditions, involves the abduction of women and under-aged girls and leads to forced marriage.
On Thursday, Wynberg Regional Court Magistrate Daleen Greyvensteyn sentenced Mvumeleni Jezile, 32, to 22 years behind bars, The Star 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 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 the practice of 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 that the practice should take place only if both parties to it 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 further urged them to apply for a protection order under the Domestic Violence Act against family members involved in the abductions. - Sapa