The South African Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu spilled her anger on those who practice ukuthwala on Thursday as she blatantly described them as paedophiles who go about abusing children in the name of marriage and tradition.
“They are nothing more than paedophiles!” said Maggie Sotyu.
“We want to say‚ we respect a tradition that builds a nation‚ but we abhor a so-called culture that oppresses‚ abuses‚ abduct‚ and rape our children in the name of tradition”.
Maggie Sotyu made it clear that they will not spare any of those child abusers who abduct little girls in the name of ‘customary marriage’ instead of allowing them to grow up the way they should.
During her speech at a budget vote in Parliament, Sotyu told the Parliament that the South African Police Service’s Women’s Network and Men for Change will be embarking on community outreach programme that will be addressing the problem of ukuthwala of young children‚ with special attention in the Eastern Cape and in other rural areas.
Ukuthwala which is a custom that originated from the Xhosa people and expanded into other ethnic groups involves the abduction of young girls and forcing them into marriage. The disturbing part of this is that often times, ukuthwala is carried out with the consent of the parents of these helpless girls.
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This obnoxious tradition is common in the rural parts of South Africa, especially in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. The young girls who fall victim of this practice are mostly under-aged as some are found to be as young as eight.
In 2009, it was reported that more than 20 Eastern Cape girls are forced to drop out of school every month as a result of ukuthwala.