In South Africa, a young boy married a woman —five times his age— despite the fact that she is already married and a mother-of-five.
Sanele Masilela, 9, is one of the world’s youngest grooms after he married Helen Shabangu, 62, for the second time in 2014.
The wedding ceremony happened a year after the couple tied the knot in front of 100 guests in the South African village of Ximhungwe.
The guests gasped when Helen shared a kiss and a piece of cake with her groom.
”I told my mother that I wanted to get married because I really did want to,” Sanele said at that time. “I’m happy that I married Helen, but I will go to school and study hard.”
“When I’m older I will marry a lady my own age,” he said. “I chose Helen because I love her and although we don’t live together all the time we meet at the dumping site where my mother works regularly.”
Sanele said he married Helen because he was told by his dead ancestors to wed. He told his parents about it and they shockingly agreed to marry the 62-year-old, giving gifts that are worth around $700 to the bride and spent around $1,200 for the big day.
After the first wedding, the child insisted that he wanted to honor the South African traditions so a second wedding ceremony took place to make the marriage official.
Because of the unusual setup, the villagers branded Sanele and Helen’s wedding as “sickening,” but the young boy’s parent’s defended the marriage union stressing that it was just a ritual and not legally binding.
“Sanele was fine and he was happy about the ceremony last year and it what he wanted, he was not shy,” Patience Masilela, Sanele’s mother said. “He was just happy to get married, very excited, and was not embarrassed about it, so much so he wanted to do it again.”
“After the wedding last year people keep asking them questions like will they live together, sleep together, have babies but I keep telling them that after the wedding everything went back to normal nothing changed,” she added.
“Sanele moved to Venda not long after the wedding because he wanted to learn a new language, but they are very close, our families are very close.”
“It was nice to celebrate with a wedding once more, it was after all a calling from the ancestors,” Patience said. “By doing this we made the ancestors happy, if we hadn’t done what my son had asked then something bad would have happened in the family.”
Meanwhile, Helen —who is old enough to be the Sanele’s grandmother— has children aged between 28 and 38, and said she was happy with her marriage to the young groom.
“I’m very happy that the boy chose me and my family’s support and understand that it is part of making ancestors happy,” Helen said. “One day, Sanele would grow normally and have a family of his own and get married, all this ceremony is for making ancestors happy, we are playing.”
Sanele and Helen did not sign a marriage certificate and are not required have to live together. After the ceremony, they both have gone back to their regular lives.