Good morning and welcome to this Valentine’s Day Mass Marriages 2019, at Robben Island. It is a wonderful day to be celebrating love through the solemnising of marriages of twelve couples. There is nothing better than love. Our beautiful couples could not have chosen a more storied place to cement their love than Robben Island. Robben Island was previously a symbol of suffering and today it’s recognised as a monument of love. Indeed, it is the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.
As the Department of Home Affairs, we are honoured to be here because we are a partner to our citizens throughout the journey of life – from birth until death, and every other life-changing occurrence along the way.
We value the partnerships which we are able to build with various partners because they help us to expand our service delivery to reach more citizens. Today would not have been possible without the partnership with the Robben Island Museum.
Since the year 2000, we have contributed to social cohesion and tourism by hosting these marriages at Robben Island. Over the years, 290 couples have tied the knot at this historic venue. Together with our faithful partner, we sponsor one couple from a disadvantaged area to be part of this wonderful day.
Our partnership has reached a higher level as the Robben Island Museum is celebrating its 20th year as a world heritage site as declared by UNESCO. We congratulate the Museum for preserving our precious history about the different layers of history on the Island. This ensures that generations to come shall have a window into the sacrifices made by our forefathers. May we, and future generations, never forget.
The toil of our forebears on the lime and stone quarries on this island gave us the 1996 Constitution of the Republic which gave us the Department of Home Affairs we have today. Over the past few years, the Department made strides in developing legislation that gives effect to the Bill of Rights as contained in our Constitution.
During the early 2000’s the Marriage Act was amended to allow women to choose the surname they preferred to be known on after a marriage was solemnized. Women getting married in South Africa today have three options, namely:
- To retain their maiden surname
- To carry a double barrel surname – coupling the maiden surname with that of the husbands or
- To take the surname of the husband.
The Department of Home Affairs further created several pieces of legislation to protect women’s rights when entering into cultural marriages. The implementation of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act in 1998 allows a husband to register multiple wives on the Population Register which provides security to wives and siblings in the event of any life changing occurrences.
South Africa was also one of the first countries to recognise same sex marriages when the Department implemented the Civil Union Act in 2006. Foreigners from all over the globe visited our shores to tie the knot under the Civil Union Act. As you can see her today, we have a couple which is going to tie the knot under the Civil Union Act. We must jealously guard and protect the rights of the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) groups.
For all the progress we have made as a country, we still need to do more as new challenges emerge. We need to overcome the challenge of marriages of convenience and fraudulent marriages.
This phenomenon of marriages of convenience is rife amongst young women, who engage in marriage with illegal foreigners who are attempting to regularise their stay in the country. These young women are then paid for their role.
The Department encourages all citizens to visit our offices to verify their marital status.
The ANC Government has observed that illegal immigration has an adverse impact on national security. We want to ensure that all those who come into the country do so legally and that the country knows what they do while they are on our shores.
If you move to the next life-changing occurrence of being blessed with children, ensure that you register the child birth within 30 days.
Our lovely couples have indeed chosen to have the courage to commit. And to commit at Robben Island. They must have known that once you end up at Robben Island, there’s no escape – it’s a life sentence. But, this is a new and wonderful beginning for you.
Some of you may have noticed that one of the posters welcoming you here from the Murrays Harbour has an inscription of Madiba’s words, which reads as follows:
“The world is truly round and seems to start and end with those we love”.
I congratulate all our couples and wish you many years of happiness.
Let me leave you with a few thoughts.
The ANC Government believes in the multi-sectoral approach that advances the fight against gender-based violence. Central to this fight must be the strengthening of the broader intervention that addresses the causes and effects of gender-based violence, such as issues of patriarchy and economic relations.
I would like to urge you to join community structures which deal with such. Your participation will help you become more aware of these challenges and assist when someone you know is in trouble. It is important to always remember that you are never alone, no matter how tough your situation may be, there is always help around the corner.
Allow me to thank our other partner, the members of the media. They have unflinchingly covered this event over the years.
Issued by the Department of Home Affairs