By NTU News Reporter
A 47-year-old woman has been found guilty by the Port Elizabeth specialised commercial crimes court for running a marriage certificate scam. She had been caught in an undercover police operation in 2016.
Nomabandla Manjezi was found guilty of two counts of fraud and four counts of corruption after selling marriage certificates to police undercover agents who posed as couples who wanted to get married illegally.
Manjezi, together with Abu Bokar, 46, operated the scam from a cell-phone shop in Port Elizabeth.
In 2016 the Hawks received a tipoff from immigration officers that Manjezi and Bokar were recruiting young women in Port Elizabeth to enter into civil marriage unions with foreign nationals and paid them between R200 and R300.
The Hawks were also advised that the necessary paperwork, identity photographs and fingerprints would be completed at the cell-phone shop by the two. The paperwork would then be captured on the Department of Home Affairs system and marriage certificates would be issued.
Police conducted a sting operation where undercover agents posed as couples purchasing marriage certificates from Manjezi and Bokar.
They arranged to meet Manjezi at the Pier 14 Shopping Centre. She escorted them to the cell phone shop, introduced them to Bokar and identified him as the person who would solemnise their marriage. Bokar gave them a document to complete and sign and he also took their photographs. The couple then paid R4000 for the marriage certificate and R100 for the photographs.
A second undercover “couple” also contacted Manjezi and the same modus operandi was conducted. On both occasions no marriage ceremony was conducted by a registered marriage officer.
The undercover agents were notified that the marriage certificates were ready for collection at the cell phone shop and that a further amount of R500 would have to be paid on collection. They collected and paid for the certificates.
One marriage certificate stated that the couple entered into a civil union on 15 August 2016 in Johannesburg and that the marriage certificate was issued on 22 December 2016. The other certificate stated that the couple entered into a civil union on 9 September 2016, also in Johannesburg, and that the marriage certificate was issued on 30 December 2016. Both marriages were officially registered on the Department of Home Affairs system.
Manjezi will be sentenced in Febraury. Bokar pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and in August 2018 was sentenced to five years imprisonment which was suspended for five years, on condition that he leaves the country.
Investigations into the case are continuing.