Marriage fiddlers are warned

Khanyisile Nkosi

Khanyisile Nkosi

People who take advantage of the "not-so-perfect system" at Home Affairs by illegally registering customary marriages could find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

Mantshele Tau, spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs, said that not only will the marriage be annulled, but criminal charges will be brought against anyone caught abusing the system.

It was reported this week that after the breakdown of her relationship, a woman had allegedly used a friend to pose as her uncle when she registered her customary marriage. This raised concerns that the system can be manipulated and that anybody can register a marriage.

The newspaper report said that Funeka Ramphisa, of Witbank, allegedly asked her friend to pose as her uncle when she registered her customary marriage without her husband's knowledge. This apparently happened after the couple argued and Ramphisa was kicked out of the house.

Tau said that while Ramphisa was within her rights to register the marriage in terms of the Customary Act, strict measures have to be observed to eliminate corruption.

"Evidence needs to be obtained as proof that ilobolo was paid. This includes testimonies, correspondence between the families, receipt of ilobolo and witnesses who were present during the ilobolo proceedings," said Tau.

Tau said people who thought that they could register customary marriages easily had another thing coming.

"We will continue to implement the zero-tolerance policy on corruption. Anybody caught abusing the system will be dealt with accordingly."

He warned men who pay "deposits" and claim that they are not married to think again.

Once a man sends a delegation to a woman's family and the woman's family acknowledges the delegation, the marriage has taken place, he said.

"Men must stop this thing that they are not married because they have only paid a portion of ilobolo. That is tantamount to abusing the law," said Tau.