Girl, 13, ‘Sold’ For $100…Mum Pleads Poverty, Marries Off Teen Daughter

A MANGWE woman gave away her daughter, 13, to a fellow farm worker in exchange for $100 bride price in a bid to free herself from looking after the minor. 

The woman, whose name we cannot publish in full for ethical reasons but is a Ncube from Kwite area married off her daughter to 23-year-old Sheperd Nkomo, from Nkayi.

The girl dropped out of school when she was in Grade Four as her mother could not afford to pay her school fees. Soon after receiving the money, Ncube ordered her daughter to move in with her new “husband” at Gaths Farm in Mangwe District where he works. The couple stayed together for a month with Ncube’s approval until a community member alerted the police about the unlawful arrangement.

Sister Nyarenda who was involved in the marriage negotiations said Ncube approached her seeking assistance in marrying off her daughter. “Ncube is a distant relative of mine and she came to my homestead and told me that she wanted to marry off her daughter. She said she had been approached by a man who seemed suitable for her,” said Nyarenda.
Girl, 13, ‘Sold’ For $100…Mum Pleads Poverty, Marries Off Teen Daughter
“I queried her decision as I felt that her daughter was still young but she would not listen, NaCabangani (Ncube) told me that she was struggling to sustain her family and Nkomo would help solve her problems as he would look after her daughter.’’ She said in September, Ncube introduced Nkomo to her as her prospective son-in-law. Nyarenda said she then consulted the girl’s mother who indicated that she would accept any amount of money from Nkomo as a bride price for her daughter.

“He then came with $100 and he left it with me. I then passed the money on to Ncube who then advised her daughter to move in with her husband,” added Nyarenda. “The juvenile was also looking after her five cousins and her mother advised her to take the youngest who is three months old to stay with her at her husband’s home.’’

She said at the time she got married, the juvenile was staying with her siblings at their rural home in Kwite area while her mother stayed at her workplace. Nkomo told The Chronicle that he had slept with the juvenile on several occasions before he paid the bride price. The girl was reunited with her family following the man’s arrest, with Nkomo claiming that she was not pregnant.

He said he would visit the girl and spend the night at her homestead while on some occasions he took her to his workplace as her mother was usually absent from home. He said his in-laws had advised him to pay any amount that he could raise in order to get his “wife.” Nkomo revealed that at the time he first made love to the minor in June, he did not know that she was under age.

“I stayed with my wife and her three-year-old cousin sister for one month after I had paid the bride price. At the moment she is now staying with her mother at her workplace,” said Nkomo. “Before paying the bride price I used to use protection when sleeping with her but ever since I married her I’ve stopped as she is now my wife.

“On my part I doubt if I did anything illegal because I married her with the blessings of her mother.” He said he was prepared to fend for the juvenile as his wife. The farm worker said his “marriage” was disrupted by “noisy” villagers who reported him to the police.

He said he was arrested on Saturday but was released pending further investigations. The juvenile’s maternal grandmother, whom we cannot name as well to protect the girl, expressed disgust over her daughter-in-law’s actions. She said Ncube had failed to act like a proper mother since her son (Ncube’s husband) passed away as she always left her children unattended.

“I’m disgusted by what my daughter-in-law did. I wasn’t even told about all these arrangements as I just learnt through the grapevine that my granddaughter was now married. “No matter how stranded you are, a normal person wouldn’t marry off such a young child just to raise money. There is no child that can turn out to be a burden to their parent,’’ she said.

Efforts to get a comment from Ncube who works at Sunridge Farm in Bulilima were fruitless as her employer denied The Chronicle newscrew an opportunity to talk to her. “Ncube is working at the moment and she can’t see you. If she wants the story published she will visit your offices but at the moment you can’t talk to her,’’ said Julia Zelda James as she kept the crew outside her locked farm premises.

Matabeleland South police spokesperson sergeant Thabani Mkwananzi was not immediately available for comment. Chief Tshitshi whose jurisdiction covers Kwite area raised concern over cases of child marriages which were rampant in rural communities. He said a number of parents and guardians were giving their children away in a bid to raise money or to avoid the responsibility of fending for them.

He said such people deserve to be penalised.

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