Fake marriages probed

2014-04-12 00:00

THE Home Affairs Department in KwaZulu-Natal has deported 22 people since December for their roles in marriages of convenience.

Between December 2013 and March this year, 121 marriages were investigated in the province.

Twenty-two of these were found to be marriages of convenience, the couples were sent to court and the illegal immigrants have since been deported back to their countries of origin.

The local women were fined R3 000 or three months in jail, said Home Affairs district manager Tersia Hanekom yesterday. She said her department was preparing more cases that are to be sent to court.

Although no figure was made available of registered marriages between immigrants and local women, the department said some unscrupulous foreign nationals who want legal residency had been using desperate women with no financial security.

“Culturally, once married, a woman leaves for the man’s village, city or country. What we have observed here is that illegal immigrants remain in South Africa long after marrying local women. That is what prompted these investigations into marriages,” Hanekom said.

She said this occurs throughout the province.

“Some of these women have elected to come forward and had confessed that they were paid various amounts of money to enter into these marriages. They confessed that they married illegal immigrants in order to give them status. It is seen as a source of income to those who are not financially stable.”

The amounts paid for the marriages differ from case to case. Hanekom said some women are willing to provide citizenship for very small amounts of money.

“When a possible marriage of convenience is identified, an immigration officer launches an investigation which entails separate interviews with the couple, visits to places of residence, interviews with family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours and whoever can provide us with more information on the validity of the marriage.

“If the marriage is found to be one of convenience, we look at the marriage officer that married the couple to determine a trend and if the marriage officer is implicated,” she said.

“These marriages are a major concern. The department has taken a firm stance in this regard, hence the investigations into all marriages involving citizens and illegal immigrants. Our young women must not be tricked into marriages of convenience; instead they should report anyone who comes up with a marriage proposition for financial gain.”

A foreign national who asked not to be named said it was not difficult to get “help” from local women. The man said he has been in the country for six years and had since “married” a local woman and obtained legal residency.

“She was my friend and I asked her to help me get the status. We did it but after that she started asking for money to do her hair and nails. That was becoming too much for me because I also had to make a living. I haven’t heard from her since 2012,” he said.

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