- Sanele Masilela got hitched to Helen Shabangu, who is already married
- The pair exchanged rings and kissed in front of 100 guests
- But his family insists it was just a ritual to appease ancestral spirits
By SAM WEBB
PUBLISHED: 19:02 EST, 10 March 2013 | UPDATED: 19:31 EST, 10 March 2013
An eight-year-old schoolboy has married a 61-year-old woman because the ghost of his dead ancestor told him to.
Sanele Masilela tied the knot with Helen Shabangu, who is already married and a mother-of-five.
The boy, from Tshwane, South Africa, said he had been told by his dead ancestors to wed and his family, fearing divine retribution, forked out for a wedding.
They paid £500 for the bride and a further £1,000 for the big day, which was organised in just two months.
Dressed in a bow tie and tiny silver suit, little Sanele, the youngest of five children, exchanged rings in front of 100 guests and even puckered up for a kiss.
It’s already shocked the community but the family has defended the ceremony, saying it was just a ritual and not legally binding.
Sanele’s 46-year-old mum, Patience Masilela said: ‘This is the first time this has happened in the family.
‘Sanele is named after his grandfather, who was 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 widow, who works at a recycling centre, added: ‘I would say that this is not wrong.
‘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.’
Sanele and his bride did not sign a marriage certificate and do not have to live together. Both have gone back to their normal lives.
Sanele today said he hoped he would have a proper wedding to a woman his own age when he was older.
He added: ‘I told my mother that I wanted to get married because I really did want to.
‘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.’
Despite being old enough to be his grandmother, bride Helen, whose children are aged between 37 and 27, was happy with the arrangement.
Helen, who also works at a recycling centre, said: ‘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.
‘It is a ritual. We are just playing now, but it is a sign that he will get married one day.’
Her husband of 30 years, Alfred, 65, said: ‘My kids and I are happy.
‘We don’t have problems with it but some of the community members were shocked.’