Ministry to Act on Bogus Marriages

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By William J. Mbangula OSHAKATI The government will soon introduce measures to double-check the background of foreign nationals who intend marrying Namibians in order to reduce the instances of marriages of convenience. Such short-lived marriages are said to contribute to frequent divorce and the breakdown of the social and moral order. The Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Rosalia Nghindiwa, expressed her concern about the prevalence of marriages of convenience when she addressed a three-day meeting of the Organisation for the Empowerment of Widows, Widowers and Orphans of HIV/Aids in Namibia (OEWONA) at Ongwediva. She said the cheats were exploiting the constitutional provision that allows them to marry Namibians under certain conditions. She also cautioned Namibians not to allow themselves to be used in order to allow foreigners to acquire Namibian citizenship through dubious means. In her view, such measures will not only help to obtain the marriage status of the person concerned but also his/her criminal record. Speaking on the topic “Marriage of Convenience” she noted some foreigners only marry locals to acquire Namibian citizenship. Once these unscrupulous elements acquire citizenship, they quickly ditch newly wed wives or husbands, she warned. “I have noted with great concern the continued erosion of the institution of marriage. Both women and men should respect marriages because it is the foundation of the society as defined in the Namibian Constitution, Article 14,” she said. She also deplored the increase in incidents of domestic violence. “This situation is not conducive to the upbringing of children, especially girls, who are abused, raped and forced into prostitution and despair,” she stated. “It is against this background that I am appealing to our fathers, husbands, uncles, brothers and sisters to immediately change those satanic behaviours which are unacceptable in the society,” she added. Regarding the HIV/Aids pandemic, Nghindiwa said the disease continues to increase amongst women and there is a correlation between poverty, alcohol, women- and child-abuse and its spread. She said the unemployment situation is forcing women to indulge in prostitution and unprotected sex that contributes to the escalation of HIV/Aids among women. According to the minister, there is great concern about divorces in Namibia; specifically among wealthy people. Statistics at her Ministry indicate that in 2004 about 2967 people married and 340 divorced. The number increased in 2005 with 5275 marriages and 497 divorces. She called upon traditional leaders, the churches and parents to take the lead in ensuring that the traditional norms and practices of the people are followed before people decide to marry. At the meeting, concern was raised about the manner in which the magistrates’ institute marriages without double-checking the background of the people involved. As a result, it was said, some people marry twice without magistrates taking notice. Some members of the public, including church and traditional leaders suggested that a computerised system be introduced which will enable magistrates to double-check each and every person’s background in relation to marriage. Aside from that, it was suggested that those wanting to marry be referred back to their respective leaders in the villages and churches to confirm their marriage status in those communities.

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