South Sudan official defies orders and weds ‘underage’ girl
April 30, 2013 (JUBA) – Kajo Keji County commissioner, Ben Yengi, is reported to have ignored an order from theCentralEquatoria government and gone ahead his marriage to a school girl who is reported to be under the legal age.
Sources in Kajo Keji town who attended the wedding told Sudan Tribune on Monday that commissioner Yengi defied state orders and went ahead to wed the 16-year old girl on Saturday in Kajo Keji’s Pentecostal Church.
“Commissioner Ben Yengi happily wedded his bride on Saturday. He ignored the order from the state and criticism made from different organisations. It was interesting that the event was attended by senior officials, some of whom came from Juba and others came from Kampala in Uganda”, the source said.
The commissioner has not responded to Sudan Tribune’s phone calls but relatives and friends of Yengi deny the girl is underage – although they have not stated how old she is.
Moses Samuel Kenyi, a citizen of Kajo Keji, said his commissioner is being “falsely” accused by political opponents who have taken advantage of thecompetition over the girl’s hand in marriage. Two other men were also pursuing her, he said.
Kenyi claimed to know the girl in question and said that she was older than 18 – the legal threshold under the Child Act – but said the reason she was still atprimary school was because she enrolled late, as many others had due to the civil war.
However, Central Equatoria State’s Child Welfare Director, Martin Mogga, on 26 April told a press conference that commissioner Yengi has been advised to stop the arranged marriage because it violated the Child Act, which prohibits marriage before the age of 18.
Mogga said the decision was taken by “high authority”. Central Equatoria’s Governor Clement Wani Konga and his deputy were informed about public concerns and steps had been taken to stop the wedding ceremony, he said.