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News

How to get out of a fake marriage

South African women selling their hands in marriage to foreigners seeking residents’ permits beware: your actions are criminal.

Divorce lawyer Bertus Preller says that a marriage of convenience in exchange for cash could land you 15 years in jail.

The New Age reported on Thursday that a syndicate is selling sham marriages to foreigners for ease of application for permits. The transaction is done by an agent who provides the woman and a priest to solemnise the union‚ it said.

While this may be lucrative‚ with women earning between R500 and R2‚000 monthly‚ the consequences are costly.

“South Africans who agree to enter into fake marriages so that foreigners can get work and residential permits could face charges‚ including perjury‚ in terms of the Marriage Act‚ Civil Union Act and the Immigration Act.

“The South African Citizenship Amendment Act imposes stiff penalties of up to 15 years in jail on both the foreigner and the South African helping the foreigner to obtain citizenship by means of an illegal marriage of convenience‚” Preller said.

Marc Gbaffou of the Africa Diaspora Forum told TMG Digital that sometimes the foreign husband believes the marriage is legitimate‚ only to discover later that his wife was only interested in his money and wants out.

“Some are told‚ ‘I have a man. We weren’t married and he was in prison. He is coming out so I need to cancel this marriage.’ These are some of the stories we hear.”

Preller says such marriages may be set aside by annulment as it is voidable due to fraud.

The husband‚ wife or the Department of Home Affairs may launch an application in court to have the marriage annulled. “The court can declare the marriage is at an end‚” he said.

If a marriage was entered into without the consent or knowledge of one of the parties‚ it is void. The aggrieved party may approach the Department of Home Affairs and request that it restore his or her marital status to what it was before‚ Preller said.

Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola confirmed to the New Age that women approach its offices in an attempt to back out of the fake marriage.

He said that where fraudulent activity is detected charges are laid with the police.