13-year fight for marriage papers

2015-12-15 10:45


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Pietermaritzburg - After fighting a losing battle with the ­Department of Home Affairs for nearly 13 years to obtain an unabridged marriage certificate, a local attorney has turned to the high court in desperation.

Even a letter sent to Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in July this year, appealing for help, went unanswered, according to court ­papers.

Silvia van Amsterdam (who practises as ­Silvia da Silva and Associates) and her ­husband, Glen, need the document so that they can apply for their three children to be granted Portuguese nationality and qualify for ­European Union passports.

According to court papers, when Van Amsterdam initially applied for the unabridged marriage certificate, the children were all minors and their application for Portuguese nationality would have been free.

But now they are all over the age of 18 years and it will cost R4 795 per child to apply.

In terms of an interim court order granted by Judge Isaac Madondo yesterday, Home ­Affairs must show cause on January 14, 2016, why a final order should not be granted directing the department to provide the couple with an unabridged marriage certificate, or at least a letter stating that the unabridged marriage certificate cannot be located.

The couple have also asked the court to order Home Affairs to foot the R14 385 bill they will have to pay in order for their children to now apply for Portuguese nationality.

Silvia van Amsterdam says in her affidavit she was born in Mozambique and is a Portuguese national.

She and her husband — whom she married on March 16, 1985 — decided their children should also apply for Portuguese nationality. Among the documents they need, is an unabridged marriage certificate.

Van Amsterdam describes her countless attempts in vain to obtain the document from Home Affairs from March 2003. She said she had dealt with Home Affairs official Sandra Singh, who was “most unhelpful”.

On at least one other occasion she described Singh as “confrontational and rude”. When Van Amsterdam said she would approach the press and the high court, Singh told her: “You do just that”, she said.

Van Amsterdam also had numerous meetings with, made phone calls to and sent SMSes to the head of the Pietermaritzburg branch of the Department of Home Affairs, whom she identified as a “Mr Luthuli”. All to no avail.

She also sent an e-mail to Dandre Jacobs at Home Affairs in Pretoria, whom she was told had helped other members of the public with similar problems to her own, but she too “unfortunately” did not reply to the e-mail, said Van Amsterdam.

“Our children are being severely prejudiced by the respondent’s [Home Affairs] ­ineptitude,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  marriage  |  court

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