An eight-year-old South African schoolboy has married a 61-year-old woman after claiming the ghost of his dead grandfather told him to.
The boy, Sanele Masilela, and already married mother-of-five Helen Shabangu tied the knot at a wedding ceremony in front of 100 guests after Sanele claimed his ancestor told him he was in love with Ms. Shabangu and said he must marry Ms. Shabangu on his behalf.
The parties agreed because they were afraid of trouble with the spirit world if the wedding did not take place. The ceremony, which took place in Tshwane in the Gauteng province, reportedly cost $1,491 and had the blessing of Sanele’s family and Ms. Shabangu’s current — and very much alive — husband.
Eight-year-old Sanele is now legally the “stepfather” to Ms. Shabangu’s five children, who are aged between 27 and 37.
However, Sanele has expressed doubts over the couple’s future, apparently telling reporters, “When I am older I will marry a lady my own age,” adding that he still intended to “go to school and study hard.”
Although the wedding has shocked the local community, the eight-year-old’s mother, Patience Masilela insists it was necessary to obey the commands of the spirit world. She also said the wedding is more of a ritual than a real ceremony.
Ms. Masilela reportedly 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… I didn’t have a problem with it because I know it’s what the ancestors wanted and it would make them happy.”
She added that Sanele is named after his grandfather, who did not get to have a white wedding before he died. Ms. Masliela claims the grandfather “chose” Ms. Shabangu because he loves her.
Sources have said the couple are living separately from each other in their own homes and have not signed a marriage certificate.
What do you think of the eight-year-old’s claim that his grandfather told him to marry? Do you think the 53-year age gap would have a different connotation if the genders were reversed?