By Marianne Nghidengwa
BOGUS marriages, which see foreigners paying paltry amounts to gain domicile in Namibia, are becoming rife, as local women try to escape poverty by making deals with tricksters.
A Confidente investigation has revealed that foreign men, preying on local women between the ages of 22 and 26, are mostly from Pakistan, Ghana, Bangladesh, Nigeria and Egypt.
These men pay local women monthly allowances of as little as N$300, while others are forking out for the tuition fees, rent, groceries, cellphones and even airtime, in exchange for a marriage certificate, with which they can apply for domicile.
So serious is the situation that “agents” are connecting foreign nationals with willing young Namibian women, who are looking to make a quick buck.
Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration Public Relations Officer, Sakeus Kadhikwa, said this week that bogus marriages are often used as a vehicle to enable foreign nationals to gain lawful status in Namibia.
He said that young women are often willing to engage in marriage fraud schemes, for financial gain, while taking a massive risk.
“Such marriages are rife. When two people decide to get married, they go to the magistrate’s court. Often they are referred to the ministry, if one partner is a foreign national. The ministry does not solemnise marriages, it only registers them,” Kadhikwa said.
He explained that the majority of foreigners are only after domicile.
“Once married, the foreigner is given a marriage certificate, before they qualify for domicile after two years. They then get a domicile certificate, which they will have for 10 years, before they qualify for citizenship, by marriage.”
Kadhikwa also revealed that the ministry has dealt with a substantial amount of cases, where young women have been dumped within days of getting married.
He said that most women reported that they had never been intimate with their husbands, while others don’t live together.
Kadhikwa, however, said that the majority of the women go to great lengths to ensure they are married, and are even coached to mislead the authorities.
“A majority are told verbally that the marriage is fake and that they will be paid for it. These are conditions they agree to. It’s only when the payments stop that they approach the ministry for assistance.
“When things don’t work out, they give us various reasons why they got into the marriages. Some say they were too young and that they were tricked into these marriages,” Kadhikwa said.
He added that there is little the ministry can do, once the marriage falls apart.
“We work closely with stakeholders to ensure that marriages are legitimate. We notify the courts and marriage officers to blacklist an individual, after careful consideration. As much as we listen to their outcries, there is little they can do. When people approach the ministry with the intention to marry, we expect them to be honest.”
Kadhikwa said that the ministry is hard at work to amend the Marriage Act, because of its many loopholes.“There are a lot of loopholes that need correcting. We are exhausting avenues to strengthen the Act.”
An activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the poverty and other social hardships the financially unstable women face, force them into bogus marriages.
“It is easy to blame these young women, but perhaps we should try to understand why they get themselves into these marriages, and address those issues. It does not help that we tell them to stop, without addressing the root cause. Reports have shown that those involved come from poor backgrounds and have no other means of income. So when opportunities like fake marriages present themselves, these women will not think twice. Can we really blame them?”
Home Affairs Minister, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana has stressed in the past that bogus marriages pose a threat to the country’s socio-economic status
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015