Women’s fake marriage trauma
Fraudulent marriages putting country’s sovereignty at risk
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