An eight-year-old boy from Tshwane in South Africa has married a 61-year-old woman. The boy, Sanele Masilela, was declared married to Helen Shabangu after his dead grandfather ordered him to perform the ritual to appease angry ancestors.
"This is the first time this has happened in the family," Sanele's 46-year-old mother, Patience Masilela said, "Sanele is named after his grandfather, who never had a white wedding before he died so asked Sanele to get married. He chose Helen because he loves her. 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. I didn't have a problem with it because I know it's what the ancestors wanted and it would make them happy," the mother continued.
Sanele Masilela's family spent £1,500 on the wedding which was witnessed by around 100 guests.
"I would say that this is not wrong," the mother added, "Sanele was fine and he was happy about the ceremony and it was what he wanted. He was happy to get married and very excited."
The newlyweds have not signed a marriage certificate and have returned to pre-marital homes and lives. It is understood that this was merely a ritual to appease ancestors and not a culturally binding union. Sanele has said he hopes to have a similar wedding... but when he is older and marrying someone closer to his own age.
"I told my mother that I wanted to get married because I really did want to," he said, "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."
Shabangu, who works at a recycling centre and is the mother of five children, admitted she was happy with the arrangement.
"I'm married and have five kids of my own, but I know that this is what the ancestors wanted - and now they are happy," she said, "It is a ritual. We are just playing now, but it is a sign that he will get married one day."