Marriages of convenience, which are mostly used by foreigners to gain SA citizenship will become a “dangerous game” to play in future, warns home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
While the country has become a haven for bogus marriages, Motsoaledi said a proposed new marriage statute will make it “very difficult” to marry someone in absentia, which is currently the main driver of the country’s fake marriages.
So serious is he about stopping fraudulent marriages that his office has started revoking the citizenship of those found to have forged their unions.
“We are now handling a very difficult case of somebody who got married and after getting citizenship he got divorced and went home to fetch the ‘real’ wife. So, we are taking his citizenship away.
“But he is resisting and says that we are evil as we found out about his fake marriages after a long time. So he is threatening to go to court,” he said.
Between April 2018 and June 2019, Motsoaledi said there were more than 2,000 fraudulent marriages, almost all involving foreign nationals.
About 1,100 had since been annulled while more than 600 were referred to courts to be dissolved through divorce.
At the Valentine’s Day mass wedding at Robben Island on Friday, Motsoaledi said young women were often victims of these undesirable marriages, enticed with money.
“Young women who need money for their nails, hair and cellphones are usually caught up in these marriages.
“But the new marriage policy will be very clear and have measures in place to minimise occurrence of these marriages of convenience. Those who think that getting married is a game will realise that it’s a dangerous game,” he said.
The proposed single marriage law, which is currently being investigated by the SA Law Reform Commission, seeks to give everyone equal rights, regardless of their religious and cultural background. The new statute will replace the Marriage Act of 1961, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act of 1998 and the Civil Union Act of 2006.
The commission is considering either a single act with a unified set of requirements, or an “omnibus option” reflecting the current diverse set of legal requirements and consequences of civil, religious and customary marriages and civil unions.