Verdict in ukuthwala case welcomed

The courts upheld the conviction and sentencing of a man who abducted and raped a 14-year-old girl.

FILE: The Centre for Child Law on Tuesday welcomed the Western Cape High Court's decision to uphold the conviction and sentencing of a man who abducted and raped a 14-year-old girl. Picture: Saps.

CAPE TOWN - The Centre for Child Law on Tuesday welcomed the Western Cape High Court's decision to uphold the conviction and sentence of a man who abducted and raped a 14-year-old girl.

Nvumeleni Jezile forced the teenager to marry him several years ago under the guise of the traditional practice of 'ukuthwala.'

The High Court this week upheld its original guilty verdict.

Jezile was sentenced to 22-years in prison on charges of human trafficking and rape.

The Centre's Zita Hansungule said, "The court confirmed that people can't easily enter into such practices with children. We are concerned that a stronger stand wasn't taken in condemning the ukuthwala practice directly but again it's a start of a debate going forward."

In 2010, Jezile reportedly travelled to the Eastern Cape where he encountered the 14-year-old school girl in a local village.

At the time she was living with her grandmother as her mother was working in another village.

Evidence before the court was that Jezile concluded an arrangement with her uncle to deliver her to him as part of the customary practice 'ukuthwala' or forced marriage.

The girl tried to escape at one stage, spending the night alone in an Eastern Cape forest.

She was later returned to Jezile by her uncle and forced to board a taxi to Cape Town where she was locked in a house and raped seven times before escaping and finding her way to a police station.