By Zuko Komisa
The Law Report with Micheal Motsoeneng-Bill recently had a conversation about the reports of over 2 000 fake marriages discovered by the Home Affairs Department in South Africa in the last year alone.
Identity Theft and Bogus Marriages
The issue of stolen identity has a massive impact on the victims, with investigations usually taking months to be resolved. Professor Philippa Kruger from the Family, Gender & Child Unit spoke about how people only discover too late that they are married. In most case, she says it happens when they lose their ID document and only find out they have another name when they re-apply.
“In the last last two years we’ve had a lot of people complain about bogus marriages, people who haven’t entered into a marriage ceremony but who find themselves married; in most cases to a foreigner.”
People typically find out in different ways that their identities have been stolen, some when they want to get married, but only find out when they approach the Home Affairs. Siya Qoza – Ministerial Spokesperson (Home Affairs) says 54% of the cases that were annulled fall under the below categories:
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• Fraudulent marriages – meaning there was no consent from both parties,
• Marriages Of Convenience – This is when consent exists from both parties, but it’s usually when a foreigner wants citizenship and pays someone to marry them. These can only be annulled a Judicial Office or a Magistrate.
• Stolen Identities – These usually come from institutions that have private operations of stealing people’s ID documents.
• Home Affairs Officers – these syndicates within the department where officers issue fake ID document.
Listen to the fullconversation here:
Siya Qoza says that these cases are prevalent in the rural areas, where young women age between 19-24 goes into marriages of convenience.
Afropolitans called in on the show to share their own incidents with stolen identities and how they were targeted.
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What do you if you are married to a stranger?
Since 2013, cases of bogus marriages and identity thefts have lessened due to the introduction of Smart ID cards, South Africans who still use their green barcoded ID’s to change them as they were not as easy to duplicate.
Afropolitans are also encouraged to be vigilant with their important documents and alert authorities when they see any suspicious activities.