Home affairs policy ‘gave the government power to rip families apart’

There years after he popped the question, a Nigerian pastor will finally be able to marry his South African sweetheart.

The Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that the department of home affairs’ ban on asylum seekers’ marriages is unconstitutional.

Home affairs have been ordered to scrap the ban policy on asylum-seeker marriages.

The recent appeal court decision that the marriage policy is unconstitutional follows a directive that was issued by home affairs in September 2016 that forbade marriages for asylum seekers.

In 2018 the high court in Port Elizabeth ruled that the ban was unconstitutional and a violation of international agreements.

The department took the case to the appeal court in a bid to have the ruling overturned.

It argued that the directive was introduced as part of a drive to prevent “fake marriages”.

The three-year court battle was launched by Nigerian pastor Emmanuel Paulking Oche Ochogwu 36, who was prevented from marrying Zizipho Mkumande, 26, in 2016. The couple is married in customary law but has been unable to register their marriage.

Ochogwu said the directive barred him both from registering his customary marriage and from solemnizing a civil marriage. Ochogwu, who said he had fled persecution by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, came to South Africa from northern Nigeria in 2012.


We did not do this only for ourselves but for everyone in this situation.


“I have seen and am aware of numerous Christians who have been killed by Boko Haram, ” Ochogwu says in court papers.

“These Christians were thrown in wells or burnt.
Boko Haram has also attacked churches, burning them down or bombing them.
My younger brother was killed by Boko Haram during one such attack.
At a time when the attacks against Christians and churches were increasing, I came to South Africa as I feared for my life,” his court papers read.

Attempts by Ochogwu-a pastor at the Dominion Embassy in Central, Port Elizabeth-were further stalled by delays from the Refugee Appeals Board, which did not sit between 2015 and 2017.

“The ruling is such relief,” said Ochogwu.

“We did not do this only for ourselves we did it for everyone in the same situation.

“As a family, we felt we could not stand by and watch others also go through this trauma. It ultimately gave the government power to rip families apart.” Ochogwu, who is the father of a three-year-old boy, said he Aahuge hoped to be by the time arrived.

“She [Mkumande] is due to give birth early next year, so we are praying this can all be resolved by then.”

Nelson Mandela University Refugee Rights Centre human rights lawyer Liesl Fourie called the judgment a victory for thousands of asylum seekers wanting to get married here.

“This is a judgment that will have a major impact on the lives of those who have applied for asylum and are still awaiting the outcome of their application, some of whom have been waiting for more than a decade.”

Asked about the impact this could have on “fake” marriages, Fourie said the department has policies in place to assess fake marriages and they will continue to enforce that.

“They cannot simply blanket everyone, even those have done nothing wrong and legitimately want to get married,” said Fourie. officially married to his second child.

Click here to download the ruling from the Supreme Court of Appeal


-Daily Dispatch

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Nigerians in South Africa
Nigerians in South Africa 8324 posts

We are about democracy, human rights, public opinion, political behavior, civil rights and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.

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