Home Affairs challenged on fake marriages

Staff Writer | Jun 12, 2019
Women seek to have fraudulent marriages expunged from the record.

A group of five women, supported by the University of the Witwatersrand Law Clinic, is taking the Department of Home Affairs to court with the aim of having fraudulent marriages removed from their records.

The women claim their identity numbers were stolen and used to contract marriages without their knowledge and consent. They had tried for years to get the Department to assist them in reversing the marriages, without success. Officials at the Department had given them varying responses, including telling them that they could not be helped, that they should press charges with the police, or that they should apply for divorces.

Their lives were severely disrupted by these circumstances. Some were not able to obtain identity documents or bank accounts, or have the birth of children registered.

Adjunct Professor Phillipa Kruger, who is affiliated with the Wits law clinic, attempted in May to get a response from the Department as to the procedures for reversing a fraudulent marriage, but her enquiries went unanswered.

The clinic says that part of the court case rests on the duty of the state to render to citizens the assistance to which they are entitled.  

Advocate Erin-Diane Richards, briefed by the clinic to handle the matter, commented: ‘State departments have constitutional obligations to carry out their functions, not only with transparency and accountability but, importantly, with efficiency.’

 

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