Motsoaledi apologises to victims of fraudulent marriages

Nomathamsanqa Swartbooi was among those struggling to get assistance from the Department of Home Affairs after discovering she was fraudulently married to an unknown man.

Marriage fraud victim Nomathamsanqa Swartbooi speaks to the media after Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi apologizes to her for what happened to her. Advocate Erin-Diane Richards stands next to her. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has apologised to a woman whose life was at a standstill for the past 14 years because her identity had been duplicated by a woman who then went on to get married using her name.

On Monday, Eyewitness News broke the story of Nomathamsanqa Swartbooi who has struggled to get assistance from Home Affairs after discovering she was fraudulently married to an unknown man.

Consequently, Motsoaledi stepped in, promising the department would ensure that Swartbooi is issued a smart card ID within 48 hours, and that the fraudulent marriage would be dealt with speedily.

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

A short meeting between Motsoaledi and the Wits Law Clinic appeared to have been all that was needed for Swartbooi’s 14-year problem to be solved.

She had gone from pillar to post, pleading with the department’s officials to address the fraudulent marriage that has rendered her unemployable because of her "husband's" bad credit record.

While Swartbooi’s matter has been resolved, the struggle to reclaim their identities continues for hundreds of women, as Motsoaledi explained.

Motsoaledi said more than half of marriages recently reported to the department had been annulled.

“One thousand one hundred and sixty-two, that’s about 54%, were found to have been fraudulent marriages and it’s not the mistake of women. They’ve been annulled, the department has cancelled them.”

The Wits Law Clinic, which is working on a class action suit with five other women in a similar situation said it was relieved by the minister's intervention and would work with the department.