Judge steps in during questioning of child bride

The accused hide their faces from the media in the courtroom
The accused hide their faces from the media in the courtroom
Image: Eugene Coetzee

A Port Elizabeth High Court judge on Friday intervened in the defence’s line of questioning posed to a child bride who was allegedly forced to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather when she was 13.

During cross-examination of the now 15-year-old alleged victim, advocate Motsamai Marele first asked the girl why she had allowed photographs of her to be taken and sent to the 61-year-old man from Greenbushes and why she did not hide her face.

“You agreed to have your picture taken and sent to a stranger? Was it not possible for you to hide your face?” Marele asked.

But judge Glen Goosen interjected: “I do not understand that. For what reason and for how long would she hide her face? She was 13 at the time and in a rural area . . . what you are suggesting is that she had a choice – she said there was nothing else she could do”.

The girl earlier testified that she allowed the picture to be taken after the man had asked for one to be sent to his phone.

“I agreed – there was nothing else I could do,” the girl said.

The 61-year-old man along with his 63-year-old sister and the girl’s uncle, 61, have been charged with two counts of human trafficking. The girl’s “husband” faces an additional two charges of rape.

It is alleged that the girl, who has the mental capacity of a nine-year-old, was forced to marry the Greenbushes man after her uncle entered lobola negotiations with the man.

It was allegedly agreed that the man would pay the equivalent of 11 cows for the girl.

Earlier in the week the girl’s uncle pleaded guilty to a charge of human trafficking culminating in a forced marriage for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

The woman and the girl’s “husband” pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.

The case continues.

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