Govt condemns sangoma/teen marriage

Officials promised to monitor the case of a 13-year-old girl, who was married off to a sangoma.

File: Government says the marriage between a 13-year-old girl and a 57–year-old sangoma violates the girl's rights. Picture: eff Belmonte/ en.wikipedia.org

JOHANNESBURG - Government has promised to closely monitor the case of a 13-year-old girl who was married off to a sangoma 44 years her senior.

The Sowetan newspaper on Thursday reported how the sangoma was arrested for statutory rape, but later released by the courts after it emerged the two Limpopo families had agreed to the marriage.

It is claimed the marriage was agreed to after the traditional healer treated the teenager for epilepsy attacks.

But the decision to drop charges against the sangoma has been met with confusion and anger.

Head of communication at the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Cornelius Monama, said officials could not stand by and do nothing.

"We hope that this tragic violation of the child's rights will be met with the harshest form of punishment.

"The minister will be following up on this matter to ensure this does not happen [again]," he added.

Monama said the "immoral and illegal" situation had the power to affect the child's future greatly.

Meanwhile, rights activist Lisa Vetten said prosecutors should never have dropped the charges.

"You may not enter into a customary marriage (if you are) under the age of 18. For the courts to even entertain the idea that the family has consented is a little bit disturbing. It suggests they don't know their own laws."

Police spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said investigations are continuing.