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I don’t: Marriage fraud victims still battling against department

The women are receiving legal support from the Wits Law Clinic and laying the groundwork for a potentially significant class action lawsuit against the department.

Elize Marcha O’Brien with her son and partner. O'Brien is a victim of marriage fraud. Her case is one of the many that is being taken up by the Wits Law Clinic against the department of home affairs. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

PRETORIA - While the Department of Home Affairs said it provided its staff with adequate training related to fraudulent marriages, several women have told Eyewitness News how they have battled for more than a decade to have marriages annulled.

The women were receiving legal support from the Wits Law Clinic and laying the groundwork for a potentially significant class action lawsuit against the department.

Being locked into a fraudulent marriage has meant some of the victims were unable to register their children's births; obtain ID documents and apply for social grants they were legally entitled to.

WATCH: ‘I'm married to someone that I don’t know’ - marriage fraud victim speaks out

Home affairs’ David Hlabane said the department constantly provided training on all aspects of marriages and raised civil registration matters broadly with its staff.

But after more than a decade of repeated visits to home affairs offices, several women have received varying advice depending on who they spoke to and remain locked in fraudulent marriages.

Advocate Erin-Diane Richards, who is being briefed by the Wits Law Clinic, said the courts had a role to play.

“If the department is in the grip of systemic rot then lawyers have a duty to at least try to craft new and creative constitutionally effective remedies, and those remedies should be specifically designed to strike out the source of the problem.”

The law clinic has called on affected women to come forward to receive help.

Read our in-depth report on fraudulent marriages in South Africa_

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