A 17-year-old teenager shed tears in court as she told one 40-year-old woman to back off and leave her husband alone because she was not willing to share him with her.
The teenager who resides at St Peter’s Village said she was troubled by Bekezela Mabhena who was in the habit of claiming that her husband Thembinkosi Mnkandla was her lover.
So to protect her peace the teenager sought justice from the courts.
“I am a teenager aged 17 years old, and I am customarily married to Mnkandla.
On several occasions when I meet one Mabhena she torments me by claiming that Mnkandla is her lover,” said the teenager.
She added: “I am also suffering because of the insults I have to endure every time I see Mabhena.
These days she even comes to our place of residence and claims that I have taken her lover. I am now applying for a protection order against Mabhena since I have no peace because of her.”
In her response Mabhena denied insulting the teenager but revealed that it was Mnkandla who had first shown interest in her.
“If she has any problems she should ask her husband because he is the one interested in me,” said Mabhena.
Western Commonage magistrate Stephen Ndlovu granted an interim order.
The case of the 17-year-old wife raises questions about adherence to the country’s laws since at her age she has not reached the legal age at which she could be deemed mature enough to marry.
This follows a 2016 landmark Constitutional Court judgment that declared 18 years the legal minimum age of marriage, a ruling that was seen as progressive in the fight against child marriage.
Before the court judgment, girls could get married at 16, while boys could marry at 18.The court ruled that section 22 of the Marriages Act was unconstitutional and therefore “no person, girl or boy should be married before the age of 18”.
The court ruling followed a year-long case from 2015, in which two former young brides, Loveness Mudzuru and Ruvimbo Tsopodzi, filed an application asking the Constitutional Court to declare the Marriage Act and Customary Marriage Act a breach of the new constitution.