A Philippi man who allegedly kidnapped a teenager, then forced her to marry him, is facing charges of human trafficking, rape and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm in one of the first cases of “ukuthwala” to be brought to court in the Western Cape.
Ukuthwala is the traditional practice of kidnapping a young woman in an attempt to force marriage negotiations.
Accused Mvuleni Jezile appeared in the Wynberg Regional Court this week on six charges, including human trafficking for sexual purposes, three counts of rape and two counts of assault.
He is alleged to have kidnapped the 14-year-old girl from the Eastern Cape, married her against her will, then brought her to the Western Cape where he raped and beat her.
Senior prosecutor Deidre Rossouw said there were two alternative charges to the trafficking charge: trafficking of a child or, alternatively, kidnapping, as he had “unlawfully taken away a minor child with the intent to deprive her parents of lawful custody”.
Jezile pleaded not guilty before magistrate Delena Greyvenstein on Wednesday. The State is seeking the minimum sentence of life imprisonment on the three rape charges.
Greyvenstein explained to Jezile that should he be found guilty, he would receive a life sentence and could have his name added to the sexual offenders register. He indicated that he understood.
Jezile is out on bail.
Advocate Tammy Lendore, for the defence, said her client would be making no admissions, and would exercise his right to remain silent.
Rossouw countered that the State would prove that the “complainant was forced into a customary marriage, assaulted, raped and held against her will”.
Putting the trafficking charge to Jezile, Rossouw said he had threatened the girl and beat her with sticks, before transporting her to the Western Cape and holding her in his home at Brown’s Farm.
The rape charges relate to consecutive rapes on February 19, 20 and 21 last year.
The girl, who cannot be identified, started testifying in camera on Wednesday afternoon. On Friday morning the girl was still testifying.
Her mother, who travelled with her from the Eastern Cape, was also due to testify, but there was not enough time. The two will return to the Eastern Cape until the case continues next month.