Port Elizabeth - The trial involving a mentally disabled 13-year-old girl who was allegedly trafficked and forced into a marriage with an elderly man, was postponed yet again in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday.
The trial was meant to get under way two weeks ago but the trial judge Glen Goosen was busy with another matter on the court roll.
The girl's so-called "husband" had also come to court having instructed new legal representation while legal aid was on record for him from at least a month ago.
The court on Monday instructed new attorney Advocate Motsamai Marele to peruse the docket so the matter could proceed to trial on Tuesday.
"There's a young complainant who has to be brought from out of town and evidence of this youthful witness must be completed this week," said Goosen.
The uncle of the girl along with her "husband" and an elderly woman face charges which include human trafficking in persons and concluding a forced marriage for the purposes of exploitation.
The girl’s so-called 61-year-old husband faces two additional charges of rape. The trio have not yet pleaded to the charges against them.
According to the indictment, it was alleged that the girl, who cannot be named, was forced to marry the elderly man who was known to her uncle. The uncle is also not being named to protect the identity of the girl.
Following the death of the girl’s mother when she was just nine years old, she went to live with her uncle in KwaDukuza, Kwa-Zulu-Natal, in 2012. During December 2014, the girl accompanied the daughter of one of the accused, a 63-year-old woman, to visit her mother.
From there, in January 2015, the girl went to live with the 63-year-old woman’s daughter in Bizana in rural Eastern Cape, where she attended school.
According to the indictment, the following year, the 61-year-old man from Greenbushes in Port Elizabeth entered into lobola negotiations with the girl’s uncle and in November 2016 the victim was told she would not return to school and would be married to the elderly man.
The 63-year-old woman, whose daughter had been looking after the girl, then allegedly put the girl in a taxi destined for Port Elizabeth. When she arrived at Njoli Square, the 61-year-old man is said to have met her there before taking her to his Greenbushes home where he allegedly instructed her to undress and get into bed.
Court documents cite that when the teenager resisted the man’s advances he strangled her and forcefully had sex with her. In January 2017, the man instructed his stepdaughter to take the girl to buy clothes and a bus ticket to Durban.
The victim then allegedly travelled back to Durban where she was met by the 63-year-old woman. The woman allegedly informed the girl that she was now a married woman and had to wear “makoti clothes”.
The woman then took the girl back to Bizana where she stayed in her “husband’s” new house and had to live and work as the elderly woman’s daughter-in-law.
Then in April 2017 the girl was allegedly sent back to Port Elizabeth after she was caught speaking to another child her age. When she arrived in Port Elizabeth she was allegedly taken back to the man’s house in Greenbushes where she was repeatedly raped. All three of the accused are out on bail.
African News Agency/ANA