Look Twice Before Marrying

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By Anna Ingwafa WINDHOEK Lately, many Namibian women have fallen victim to abuse from their foreign spouses who just turn up to exploit the system through marriages of convenience. One woman New Era spoke to recently relayed a heartbreaking life story of how her marriage was on the rocks in less than two months. When she tied the knot, the woman thought she would live ’till death do us part’. Sadly, this was not to be and hers was going to be a living nightmare. Her Kenyan husband disappointingly told her that the marriage was not genuine. For him it was just to acquire Namibian citizenship or permanent residence for job purposes. According to the woman who wanted to remain anonymous, she met her husband through a mutual friend in February last year and got married after three weeks. But after a month, her husband told her to go back to her mother’s house and accept an amount of N$3 000 to keep her mouth shut and to avoid getting in contact with him. “Our marriage ended in less than two months and I feel used and now I am filing for a divorce. I approached the Legal Assistance Centre for help because I cannot afford the legal costs and they were very helpful. I feel used, and the fact that this guy is going nowhere makes me come out and alert women and men about these marriages.” According to the Namibian Constitution, a person shall be a citizen of Namibia by marrying a Namibian citizen or, prior to the coming into force to the constitution in good faith married a person who would have qualified for Namibian citizenship if the constitution had been in force and subsequent to such marriage have ordinarily resided in Namibia as the spouse of such person for a period of not less than two years and such person can apply for Namibian citizenship by virtue of marriage. An official at the Ministry of Home Affairs said there are many cases of bogus marriages and “our department could not afford to treat all marriages of Namibians to foreigners as opportunistic”. Government can introduce a specific legislation to assist in fighting the problem, he said. If the couple stay married for less than two years and it is proven that the marriage was not in good faith an application can be launched for that person to be deported, suggested the official. The official further said that foreigners have found a loophole in the Namibian legal system and there is nothing that his department can do. “The only advice is that Namibians should look twice before marrying these people.” There is a likelihood that some immigrants come to Namibia as economic migrants hoping to settle in Namibia and then use marriage to Namibians to settle in the country. But even if a handful of Namibians have fallen victim to the tricksters the prospects are frightening.

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