A LOVE-STRUCK magistrate has been arrested for allegedly using the law illegally to keep her Nigerian sweetheart.
The desperate magistrate allegedly registered a marriage between herself and her lover to prevent immigration officials from deporting him.
Magistrate Mary Mokone of the Senwabarwana magistrate's court in Limpopo registered her lover, Dike Anistetus Nionso, in her own surname so that he could obtain a South African identity document.
Nionso is an illegal Nigerian immigrant who is allegedly registered under several names.
Mokone was arrested yesterday at her offices by Department of Home Affairs immigration officers.
She has been charged with fraud and defeating the ends of justice.
Spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs Sam Moremi said the marriage was found to have been registered fraudulently. He said the "fraudulent" certificate indicated the marriage took place on July 1 2003 but that there were no records to prove that it actually happened.
"We are concerned at how desperate such a high-profile person could have been to do such a thing. But we hope our investigations will uncover the truth," he said.
Mokone had initially told the officials she was living with Nionso as "boyfriend and girlfriend" but the officials were surprised to realise the two were married.
Moremi said they called Mokone last week and asked that Nionso come to their offices for an interview but were told he was in Johannesburg.
"We probed the matter further and discovered that the marriage does not exist. There were no books to support the marriage," he said.
Moremi said the man had two ID books with different names and dates of birth.
"There is one that identifies him as Dike Anistetus Nionso, who was born on January 5 1979, and another which identifies him as Odera Ekwunife, born on March 6 1970," he said.
He said the marriage certificate indicated the man was registered as Odera Mokone.
"As a department we will work very hard to ensure that these kinds of fraudulent activities are prevented from occurring in the country," said Moremi.
Mokone will appear in the Polokwane magistrate's court soon.
Moremi said they were still looking for Nionso.