Sham marriages pose security threat to Namibia

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Sharon Kavhu

Windhoek -  Namibia’s Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has raised concern over the issue of sham marriages saying they are posing threats to the country’s national security. 

At a press briefing last week, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Maureen Hinda-Mbuende, said such marriages were creating a supply of Namibian passports to foreigners who ended up using them to travel to other countries to commit terrorist acts, human and drug trafficking, among others.

“We have engaged the law enforcement arms and arrests have been made, and we envisage more arrests.  Cases vary from marriage officials, including pastors, conducting such marriages among strangers, for example persons landing today just to marry someone they have never seen or spoken to.  We have confirmed cases of Namibians being on the payroll of criminals to maintain sham marriages and these are just some of the cases that our law enforcement agencies are dealing with on a daily basis,” said Hinda-Mbuende.

She said sham marriages were also associated with many social evils such as an unstable homes and domestic violence.

The Namibian Constitution grants citizenship to non-Namibians through marriage. Chapter 2 Article 4 of the Constitution highlights that, “Those who in good faith marry a Namibian and have lived here with their husband or wife for not less than 10 years and have applied to become a Namibian citizen are eligible for citizenship. A marriage by customary law is also seen as a marriage for the purpose of this Article”.

However, the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has been dealing with cases where they had to be called to rescue Namibian citizens by origin who would have been trapped in shame marriages. 

Hinda-Mbuende described such marriages as marriages from hell, adding that Namibians enter such marriages in ignorance or because of greediness.

“Our ministry, as the mandated government institution that deals with marriages, finds itself between a rock and a hard place as it has to intervene in matters that are private as marriages. It is not the intention of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration to interfere or get involved in the personal affairs of people. However, it is our obligation to ensure that the Constitution of Namibia is upheld; that Namibian citizens are protected from any harm and danger; and that the sovereignty of our country is safely guarded against criminal elements that seek to break our laws by entering into sham marriages.

“We are giving a stern warning to those who do things contrary to the law by entering in sham marriages.  Our ministry will leave no stone unturned to crack down on criminals.”

She urged people to contact or visit her ministry’s offices all over the country to establish the legal process of entering into a marriage.

Hinda-Mbuende said the issue of sham marriages was a global problem that governments all over the world were continuously organising resources, especially security agencies, to ensure that they were equipped to contain these phenomena.

 

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