The Hawks have rescued a 17-year-old teenager from a forced arranged marriage in Tsolo, Eastern Cape

The practice is popularly known as ‘ukuthwala’.

The teenager was allegedly abducted by two men last week.

Hawks spokesperson Captain Anelisa Ngcakani said the Serious Organised Crime Investigation Unit of the Hawks had rescued the victim on Monday in the Mjika Administrative Area of Tsolo.

A resident of Mjika reported on Monday at the Tsolo Police station that the girl, who is also from Mjika, had been abducted by two men on 16 January while she was visiting another member of the community.

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“She was subsequently forcefully married to a 35-year-old man who resided in the same village.

“The case was immediately referred to the Hawks, as the investigative directorate is mandated to investigate human trafficking,” said Ngcakani.

Ngcakani said members of the Serious Organised Crime Investigation Unit rescued the girl at approximately 10:00 on Monday.

The victim is currently staying at a place of safety.

“No arrests have been made as yet, however the investigation is continuing and arrests are expected to be made in due course,” said Ngcakani.

Another girl rescued

Earlier on Wednesday, News24 reported that a 16-year-old Grade 9 girl, who was reportedly forced into marriage in the remote rural area of Ngxangxasini, Mpindweni, in Ngcobo, had been rescued and taken to a place of safety at an undisclosed location, Eastern Cape police have said.

According to police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana, a tactical response team, Ngcobo detectives, the Hawks and the police’s Mounted Unit had assisted in the operation. “This follows a bitter struggle between the police and the community of Mpindweni, who had already mobilised in anticipation of the arrival of the police. Despite insults and revolts by the members of the local community, the police remained calm, but determined, to ensure that the child is rescued from the situation,” Kinana said.

The girl’s biological parents were summoned to the Ngcobo police station on Wednesday to meet investigators and discuss the child’s future. Eastern Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga said: “As the police in this province, we recognise the constitutional right of people to their culture and customs, but when that right is abused and found to be in conflict with the rights of a girl child to education and childhood, we have an obligation to step in and rescue the situation. And that is what we have done in this particular situation.”

Ntshinga warned those forcing young children into marriage to refrain from the practice.

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