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'Ukuthwala' rapist gets 22-year sentence

The man forced a teen to marry him in an African custom called Ukuthwala.

The man was sentenced to 22 years for forcing a teen to marry him in an African custom called Ukuthwala. Picture: RSC Inc.

CAPE TOWN - A convicted rapist and human trafficker has been sentenced to 22 years behind bars in Cape Town.

Mvuleni Jezile was found guilty on various counts of rape and trafficking after he forced a 14-year-old Eastern Cape girl to marry and have sex with him in an African custom called Ukuthwala.

Ukuthwala is the practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage, often with the parents' consent.

According to court papers, Jezile forced the teenage girl to travel with him with Cape Town after marrying her.

She was then held against her will at his brother's home in Philippi for some time, where she was repeatedly raped.

The 14-year-old eventually escaped and alerted police before her captor was convicted last November on the five counts.

The National Prosecuting Authority has welcomed the 22-year sentence handed down, saying it's the harshest in South African history where Ukuthwala has been used as a defence.