A 16-year-old Grade 9 girl who was reportedly forced into marriage in the remote rural area of Ngxangxasini, Mpindweni, in Ngcobo has been rescued and taken to a place of safety in an undisclosed location, Eastern Cape police have said.
According to police spokesperson Brigadier Tembinkosi Kinana, a tactical response team (TRT), Ngcobo detectives, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and the police's Mounted Unit 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 who were hell-bent on forcing young children into marriage to refrain from the practice.