File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – In future we should see fewer cases of fake marriages, according to the Department of Home Affairs.

But Wits Law Clinic’s family, gender and child unit said in the past 24 hours they had received numerous requests from people seeking assistance to get out of fraudulent marriages.

This follows reports of women who found themselves in fraudulent marriages after their identity documents were duplicated.

Home Affairs Department spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza said they were now working with the Wits Law Clinic to help cancel fake marriages and urged South Africans to apply for smart card IDs, as they were not as easy to duplicate.

“We encourage people to move to smart card IDs to avoid this occurrence. On average, we get 2000 instances of fake marriages a year, and that is quite a high number. 

"Just this past financial, year, we had 2132 fake marriages, of which we were able to verify that 54% were fake marriages, and they were cancelled,” Qoza said.

The department had communicated with those who had brought complaints of fake marriages to them, he added.

“In the case of Nomathamsanqa Swaartbooi, we established there was a duplicate of her ID number and another person got married to a gentleman, who is a foreign national, and that person had two kids, and they were able to rake up credit using Swartbooi’s ID number.

The Minister apologised to Swaartbooi that the matter wasn’t resolved earlier.”

Wits Law Clinic family, gender and child unit’s Professor Philippa Kruger said in the last 24 hours they had had between 20 and 30 requests for assistance.

“Before that, we had six cases that we were about to take to court. One has now been settled, with the Minister personally apologising to our client at our offices. 

"The response to the media intervention has been astounding and we want to encourage women to come through, by email or telephone.”

Kruger said at this stage, they were not able to determine which parts of the country the cases were from, as they were still following up on the requests for assistance.

“We hope to achieve justice for each client who has found herself ‘married’ to someone she does not know and have the Department of Home affairs correct their records accordingly.”

Kruger said they would address the cases directly with the department.

“If unsuccessful and if the case has merit, we will take the matter to court. We have an excellent relationship and partnership with Legal Aid SA, who will assist in reaching more people affected by this scourge.”

Cape Times