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An 8-year-old South African boy wed a 61-year-old woman, after he was instructed to do so by the ghost of his ancestor.  Little Sanele Masilela wed Helen Shabangu, who is already married and has five children.

The child, from Tshwane,  South Africa, and his family feared divine punishment had they not followed the instructions for him to marry. “This is the first time this has happened in the family,” said Sanele’s mother, 46-year-old Patience Masilela, who works at a recycling center with her new daughter-in-law. “Sanele is named after his grandfather, who never had a white wedding before he died so [he] 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.”

As for the more than 50-year age difference, Patience was perfectly fine with letting her youngest child get married. “I didn’t have a problem with it because I know it’s what the ancestors wanted and it would make them happy.”

The family paid  £500 ($744.85) for the bride, plus an additional  £1,000 ($1,489.70)  for the ceremony, which was put together in two months.

Sanele wore a silver and black suit, while his bride donned a traditional white wedding dress, and carried a bouquet of white and purple flowers.

Images from the ceremony show the little boy looking pretty angry (and possibly confused) about his new marriage status, but he and his mother paint  a different picture. “I told my mother that I wanted to get married because I really did want to,” he explained.

“Sanele was fine and he was happy about the ceremony and it was what he wanted,” added his mother.“He was happy to get married and very excited.”

As for the bride—whose children range from ages 27-37—she is happy with the outcome. “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.”

Technically, the couple isn’t actually married as the event was more of a ritual than legally binding. “We are just playing now, but it is a sign that he will get married one day.”

Shabangu’s husband said that he and his children are also pleased with the wedding. “We don’t have problems with it but some of the community members were shocked.”

No surprise there.

Click below to see photos from the 8-year-old’s big day.

Photos: Dimakatso Modipa/Barcroft Media

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