The home affairs ministry has investigated about 70 so-called marriages of convenience, deputy minister Maureen Hinda-Mbuende announced yesterday. Sham marriages mostly involve local women getting married to foreign men in exchange for money. The foreign national then obtains Namibian citizenship through a marriage of convenience.
She said of the 70 cases reported, 10 were concluded through legal processes. Hinda-Mbuende said the culprits paid a fine and were immediately deported.
She said the constitution grants citizenship to non-Namibians but the one in particular based on marriage seems to be used by criminal elements for ill gain.
"We have engaged the law enforcement arms and arrests have been made and we envisage more arrests," she said.
"Cases vary from marriage officials, including pastors conducting such marriages amongst strangers; for example persons landing today just to marry someone they have never seen or spoke to. We have confirmed cases of Namibians being on the payroll of criminals to maintain sham marriages. These are just some of the cases that our law enforcement agencies are dealing with on a daily basis."
The deputy minister added that vigilant officials picked up the bogus marriages and reported them to the authorities.
Hinda-Mbuende warned that the ministry would leave no stone unturned in dealing with culprits implicated in such offences.
She said the ministry is inundated with reports of sham marriages conducted by those who are entrusted and have taken an oath to uphold the law but are instead contravening the law.
She further shared that although men are involved, the majority are women between the ages of 25 to 40 who receive about N$500 to N$1 500 per month. She said some local women were entering into marriages of convenience with nationals from as far as Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Egypt and Nigeria.
Hinda-Mbuende added that in the past five years there have been 130 marriages between Namibians and Egyptians. She said it was not the ministry's intention to interfere or get involved in the personal affairs of people, however, it is their obligation to ensure that the constitution of the country is upheld by ensuring citizens are protected from any harm and danger.
She added that they are also doing this to ensure the sovereignty of the country is safely guarded against criminal elements that seek to break the laws by entering into sham marriages.
"The issue of sham marriages poses a threat to the national security of our country as this creates a supply of Namibian passports to foreigners who end up using them to travel to other countries to commit terrorist acts, traffic drugs, amongst others," she said.