Man ‘did not know niece, 13, abused’
The uncle of a 13-year-old girl who was allegedly sold off for the equivalent of 11 cows and forced to marry a 61-year-old man, claimed he was not aware his niece had been sent to Port Elizabeth where she was allegedly repeatedly raped by the elderly man.
This emerged in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Friday while the defence counsel for the 61-year-old Greenbushes man, advocate Siphokazi Cubungu, cross-examined the girl.
The uncle, also 61, who is not being named to protect the identity of the girl, earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of human trafficking culminating in a forced marriage for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
He pleaded not guilty to a charge of trafficking of persons, which is different in context.
On Friday the now 15-year-old girl, who has the mental capacity of a nine-year-old, told the court she knew her uncle had initially refused to marry her off but he had been convinced by the man’s sister.
According to the girl, the woman promised the uncle that her family would look after her and ensure she finished school before she officially married the man at 18.
“[The uncle] will tell this court that [the family] would take care of you and you could only marry at 18 and not 13,” Cubungu said.
“So why would [the uncle] sell me to such old people just because he wanted money?” asked the girl.
Cubungu said the girl had already been staying with the family after she left her uncle’s home and moved to Bizana where she stayed with the woman’s daughter.
In earlier testimony the girl said she went to stay with the woman after it became unbearable to live with her uncle because he would fight with her and beat her up.
Cubungu told the girl that the uncle would tell the court that he did not know what had happened to her after she went to Bizana or that she was married off at such a young age.
“He loves you so much, you are his sister’s child. He would not sell you, he only wants the best for you,” Cubungu said.
“If he loved me so much, why did he do this?” she said.
The man and his sister have both been charged with trafficking of persons and a separate charge of human trafficking culminating in a forced marriage for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
The man faces two additional charges of rape. They have both pleaded not guilty.
The case continues.