Cape Town - A woman who trafficked her underage niece for sexual purposes has failed the appeal against her 12-year jail sentence in the Western Cape High Court.
Zukiswa Bangi had facilitated an “arranged marriage” for her minor niece, who was placed into her care after the child’s father died.
The “husband” raped and assaulted the minor and also kept her captive against her will.
According to the judgment by Judge Derek Wille, Bangi was convicted on a single count of the alleged illegal trafficking of the complainant for sexual purposes.
Bangi had faced five criminal charges.
“The appellant was (31) years old at the time of the alleged commission of the offence and the complainant was only (15) years old at the time of the offence committed against her by Bangi.
The evidence was that when the complainant was fifteen (15) years old her father passed away.
The offender became her guardian and the complainant resided with the offender, who is her aunt. The complainant was informed by the offender that she would be sent away to become the wife of a much older man in the form of an ‘arranged’ marriage.
“The evidence exhibited that this in essence was an ‘arranged’ marriage against the express want of the complainant.
“Unequivocally, it was demonstrated that the co-habitation of the complainant with her ‘husband’ was not by consent and against her will and her express wishes.
It was as a direct result of this ‘arrangement’ that the complainant was repeatedly raped, assaulted, and kept captive by her purported husband,” the judgment read.
The State argued that it was Bangi who facilitated the marriage.
Judge Wille said: “The record does not reflect any suggestion that the appellant showed any form of genuine remorse at all.
Regrettably, she does not exhibit any insight into the seriousness of the crime committed by her. This then goes to the issue of her moral blameworthiness.
“By contrast, the complainant was traumatised by the events that unfolded since the loss of her father. She was essentially denied the opportunity to flourish and enjoy her childhood and complete her career at school.
This traumatic event has influenced her life irreparably.
The psychological harm suffered to her person is simply too horrendous to begin to understand,” said Judge Wille.
Bangi submitted, among other reasons in her appeal application, that she was the primary caregiver of her two minor children, but it was found that the children are in the care of her sister and her husband, who is the breadwinner.
“Allowing the appellant to return home to her minor children after being convicted of human trafficking of a minor girl for sexual exploitation would possibly in itself be detrimental to their upbringing.
Accordingly, we can find no misdirection in the reasoning adopted by the court of the first instance in this connection and thus a custodial sentence will not adversely compromise the best interests of the appellant’s children,” said Judge Wille.