An intellectually disabled girl, allegedly forced into child marriage at the age of 13, was beaten while in the care of her uncle and then raped when she was sent to Port Elizabeth to live with her 61-year-old-husband, the Port Elizabeth High Court heard on Wednesday.
The teenager, who is now 15-years-old, testified that after her parents died she went to live with her uncle in Stanger, Kwazulu-Natal, where he would repeatedly beat her.
She said she was constantly scared, slept in a toilet outside the home and did not attend school because she was frightened of fetching her school uniform, which was kept in her uncle’s bedroom.
After meeting a 63-year-old woman at church, the child went to live with the woman’s daughter in Bizana, Eastern Cape, where she attended school and completed Grade 5.
The girl’s uncle had provided her birth certificate and report cards to the elderly woman who gave them to her daughter. The daughter, in turn, arranged a school for the child.
But when she was in Grade 6, a 61-year-old man – the brother of the elderly woman – sent a phone to the residence so that he could communicate with the girl.
The girl testified that she had one day met the man when he travelled to Bizana. The daughter of the elderly woman instructed the child to meet with the man at a taxi rank, whereafter he bought her KFC and groceries.
The child testified that when she returned home from school one day, she was told by the elderly woman’s daughter that she would no longer attend school as she needed to be taught the “laws, practicals and principles” of a married woman.
The girl said she did not know why she needed to learn such principles. Nevertheless, she was taught to cook and clean, she said.
The 61-year-old man then sent money to the house and instructed the girl to take a taxi to Shakaskraal, where she met her uncle.
“My uncle told me I am no longer a child and I am going to be a wife. He then handed me over to [the elderly woman].”
“My uncle told me I am going to be [the man’s] wife as he had already paid for labola,” she testified.
From Shakaskraal the child travelled by taxi to Ballito, north of Durban, to Mthatha, and finally to Njoli Square in Port Elizabeth where she was collected by her “husband” who tried to kiss her. The teenager said she rejected his advances.
She told the court that she “agreed” to be a wife but as time went by she did not want to be with the elderly man, who she described as having an ugly face.
When the teenager arrived in Port Elizabeth she said she was taken to the man’s “filthy” house.
She detailed undertaking repetitive house chores such as daily cooking and cleaning. At night, the 61-year-old man would force her to have sex with him and at one point choked her so she wouldn’t make a noise.
She described lonely days in front of the television while the man went to work. By the time he returned she would get bath water ready for him and prepare the evening meal. She was then raped at bedtime.
She testified that the 61-year-old man scolded her for sitting outside the house and instead wanted her to be locked up inside at all times.
The girl’s uncle, the 63-old-woman and the child’s “husband” face charges including human trafficking and concluding a forced marriage for the purposes of exploitation.
The husband faces two additional charges of rape.
The trio pleaded not guilty to the bulk of the charges. The uncle entered a plea of guilty to a charge of trafficking in persons.
All their names are being withheld to protect the identity of the girl.
The trial continues.
African News Agency (ANA)