Cape Town - It’s a predicament many fear: your ID book disappears and, next thing you know, you’re married to a complete stranger who lives in another country.
And that’s reality for 60-year-old Lena Henkeman, of Tafelsig, who discovered in 2010 that Home Affairs department records have her married to Gerrit Kant from The Netherlands – since 1997 – even though she met him only once.
In a further twist in Henkeman’s case, now before the Western Cape High Court, it has emerged that Kant was involved with Henkeman’s late cousin. And, also in 1997, the cousin asked Henkeman to marry Kant so that he could obtain permanent SA citizenship – a request she refused.
At around the same time, her ID book disappeared.
And today she finds herself in the middle of a legal bid to have the marriage annulled.
Henkeman, who obtained free legal assistance from a city law firm, said in an affidavit that she divorced her first husband in 1991 and, in terms of the divorce order, their Tafelsig home was transferred into her name.
It was only 19 years later, in 2010, that she went to the housing office in the CBD to make the necessary arrangements for the transfer. There, to her “utter shock and disbelief”, an official told her she was married to Kant.
She obtained a copy of the marriage certificate, which reflected they were married in Mitchells Plain on March 15, 1997.
The marriage officer was identified only as HM Brown, of the International Pentecostal Evangelical Mission.
Henkeman said the church no longer existed.
“I had absolutely no knowledge that I was married to the man. As a result of the marriage I am being prejudiced as it affects my status,” she said in the affidavit.
Henkeman has been unable to trace Kant’s whereabouts.
The deeds registry does not have any records for him, and tracing agents were unable to find him, she said.
All she knew was that he lived in both Holland and Windhoek.
“I have no way of contacting Mr Kant, and no relatives or friends have been able to provide me with any assistance,” she added.
She said the marriage took place without her knowledge or consent, and was therefore fraudulent.
The application to have the marriage annulled is expected to be heard on Friday.
Henkeman told Weekend Argus she never knew Kant, even though her cousin had introduced her to him once.
She said she cried when she found out that she was married to him.