Women’s fake mar­riage trauma

Fraud­u­lent mar­riages putting coun­try’s sovereignty at risk

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KHAYA KOKO

IMAG­INE wak­ing up one morn­ing with a whole new iden­tity – wak­ing up to re­alise that you’re mar­ried to some­one you’ve never met.

This is the lived re­al­ity of a Soweto woman, Pu­lane Tsha­bal­ala, who found out on De­cem­ber 30 last year that she has been mar­ried for 11 years to a man she doesn’t know.

The 41-year-old woman was robbed on De­cem­ber 29 at her shop in cen­tral Joburg. Among the items that were stolen was her hand­bag, which had her ID and pass­port in it.

“The next day I went to Home Af­fairs to ap­ply for a new ID and pass­port, and was given an af­fi­davit form to take to the Jo­han­nes­burg Cen­tral po­lice for the po­lice to con­firm the rob­bery,” she ex­plained.

“Upon re­turn­ing to Home Af­fairs, I was told that I was mar­ried. The mar­riage was back­dated on the Home Af­fairs sys­tem to show that I was mar­ried on Jan­uary 5 last year – be­fore the rob­bery took place,” Tsha­bal­ala added.

She was told by a Depart­ment of Home Af­fairs (DHA) of­fi­cial that she would have to go to court in or­der to rem­edy her sit­u­a­tion.

“I was told I would have to go to court and get a di­vorce. But how am I sup­posed to di­vorce some­one I have never met in my life? Where would I even start to look for him?” she be­moaned.

She added that the tough­est part for her of not hav­ing an ID was that she couldn’t ap­ply to get her 17-year-old daugh­ter an ID.

“My daugh­ter is in Grade 11 now. I wanted to ap­ply for her to get an ID at the be­gin­ning of this year as she will be in ma­tric next year and needs to be ready,” Tsha­bal­ala said.

“I also travel a lot to Mozam­bique for busi­ness, and not hav­ing a pass­port is go­ing to be a huge prob­lem for me and my busi­ness.”

Home Af­fairs spokesper­son May­ihlome Tsh­wete con­firmed the va­lid­ity of Tsha­bal­ala’s or­deal, say­ing the is­sue had been re­solved and her orig­i­nal sin­gle sta­tus re­stored.

He added that fraud­u­lent mar­riages were a preva­lent oc­cur­rence in the coun­try, lead­ing the depart­ment to in­sti­tute an anti-cor­rup­tion project called Bvisa Masina – a Venda term which loosely trans­lates as “root­ing out the rot”.

“This was be­cause there are a few cor­rupt el­e­ments within the DHA who col­lude with il­le­gal for­eign­ers, where they reg­is­ter these fraud­u­lent mar­riages be­tween the il­le­gal for­eign na­tion­als and ci­ti­zens,” Tsh­wete ex­plained.

“We have also un­cov­ered that South Africans, par­tic­u­larly fe­males, are will­ingly get­ting into fraud­u­lent mar­riages with il­le­gal for­eign mar­riages and they are be­ing promised reg­u­lar pay­ments. When the il­le­gal for­eigner re­ceives cit­i­zen­ship, they de­cide to stop pay­ments,” he added.

Tsh­wete em­pha­sised that the depart­ment had made nu­mer­ous ar­rests, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the SAPS and the Hawks, re­gard­ing the il­le­gal reg­is­tra­tion of fraud­u­lent mar­riages by their of­fi­cials, as­sert­ing that Bvisa Masina was an on­go­ing project which would rid the depart­ment of cor­rup­tion.

He also is­sued a plea to South Africans to stop will­ingly en­ter­ing into fraud­u­lent mar­riages as this was putting the coun­try’s sovereignty and se­cu­rity at risk.

Jo­han­nes­burg Cen­tral po­lice have con­firmed that a case of rob­bery is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated. Po­lice spokesper­son Cap­tain Xoli Mbele said Tsha­bal­ala’s rob­bery case was still be­ing in­ves­ti­gated and the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer, Con­sta­ble M Kekana, went to Tsha­bal­ala’s shop yes­ter­day to re-view CCTV footage of the in­ci­dent.

For­mer min­is­ter of home af­fairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said in 2010 that about 7 000 South Africans had ended up in fake mar­riages with for­eign­ers.

If you sus­pect you are in a fraud­u­lent mar­riage, go to a po­lice sta­tion, fill out an af­fi­davit and sub­mit it to any Home Af­fairs of­fice for in­ves­ti­ga­tion. @khayakoko88

Fraud­u­lent mar­riage vic­tim: Pu­lane Tsha­bal­ala

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