The South African government is planning to crack down on dubious marriage proposals, warning that couples could face 15 years in prison if they are involved in a fraudulent marriage. There are a rising number of South African women who are selling their hands in marriage to foreigners seeking residents’ permits. These men pay the women between R500 and R2 000 a month to be their ‘wife’ for them to get permits.
A member of the Office of the Family Advocate at Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Josephine Peta spoke to VOC Breakfast Beat on Thursday morning to discuss the seriousness of fraudulent marriages and marriages of convenience in South Africa.
“They are a very huge challenge for the government as well as for the citizens of South Africa to the extent that I see them as a crime against the citizens South Africa as well as the government,” she said.
The Department of Home affairs has warned women that they could face 15 years in prison if they are involved in a fraudulent marriage. When asked what the government had in plan to curb these marriages, Peta said the department of home affairs and has started introducing the biometric system and has had some support from authorities.
“Each and every marriage officer when having any person within the republic of South Africa have to make sure they subject them to the finger print processes, so before you get your marriage certificate there is a number of forms but you need complete and attach your finger print to it,” she explained.
“Secondly we also have an anti-corruption unit also at the department of home affairs which is dealing with this. We are also receiving cooperation from the National Prosecution Authority as well as SAPS.”
She further added that the Immigration Amendment Act also changed for foreigners who apply for South African citizenship from 1 year to eight years.
“You must be in the country for a period of eight years and thereafter make applications to the minster of home affairs, who [ministry]will then have to clear your applications after a very intensive investigation,” she said.
The Department of Home Affairs has no power to reverse a particular marriage; but it can be investigated by the Hawks and SAPS in order to trace back the origin of the marriage
“If it is found that you were at the department of home affairs when the marriage was acted into then you automatically a party of fraud,” she said.
Peta said marriages of convenience cannot be disintegrated through divorce because it is a fraudulent marriage.
“It cannot be dissolved by divorce because it contains an element of fraud… so it has to go through the processes at the high court first, it can also give rights to a criminal element of you so people need to be very careful.” VOC