Maritzburg woman's fake husband shock

2013-08-19 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG woman Juanita Badenhorst has been married for 10 years to a man she has never met.

She has never been given a ring, walked down the aisle or signed any legal document to say she is married.

So, it was a shock for her when she discovered that she has been registered by Home Affairs as a married woman.

She made the startling discovery when she went to collect a new passport as she was planning to go on holiday with her boyfriend. She has never lost her ID book, so she has no idea how the man who registered the marriage got her ID number.

“When I went to collect my passport, the woman at the counter asked me why I want my passport in my maiden name. I thought she was joking but she said ‘Come and look’. When I saw [my marital status on the system], the blood drained from my face.”

Since the discovery, Badenhorst has been pushed from department to department trying to sort out this bureaucratic nightmare. Her “husband” is a foreigner by the name of Amin Muhammad. According to Home Affairs records, the marriage took place at Durban Home Affairs on September 19, 2003 and was registered on October 14, 2008.

“I had to go to the marriage department where I was told to go to the police station and get an affidavit to state that I am not married. I don’t know Amin Muhammad and was never paid to get married. I did this and also applied for an abridged marriage certificate that would take six weeks to come. I went back seven weeks later and was told I never applied for the marriage certificate, so I applied again,” she said.

Now an investigation is under way to prove that Badenhorst did not sign any papers to confirm her marriage. Signatures on the documents have to be analysed to see if they match Badenhorst’s. If the investigation shows the marriage was fraudulent it will be annulled. If not, she will have to get divorced at her own cost.

Attempts to get comment on the specifics on the investigation were unsuccessful.

“They told me that travelling will be difficult because the name on my passport doesn’t match the name in the system. I also can’t get married until I get divorced. My boyfriend and I have been planning for the future. Now we can’t do anything until this is cleared up …

“You hear about these things happening, but you don’t think they will happen to you.”

Ronnie Mamoepa, the spokesperson for Home Affairs, said that they are aware that fraudulent marriages occur.

“We made an appeal to the public to check their marital status at Home Affairs. We do know that fraudulent marriages occur for citizenship and other reasons,” he said.

Badenhorst suspects that Muhammad registered the marriage to get South African citizenship. It is uncertain what will happen to Muhammad if the marriage is proved to be fake. Mamoepa said that is a matter for law enforcement to deal with.

“Home Affairs made it sound as if they would just annul the marriage and let him go, but they should bring him in. They need to make sure my ID number is not attached to him any more,” said Badenhorst.


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