PRETORIA - On 02 June 2016, 34 Imams across Gauteng graduated as marriage officers. Minister Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Home Affairs, and Deputy Home Affairs Minister, Ms Fatima Chohan, officiated during the graduation ceremony at Freedom Park in Pretoria as the Imams, who underwent intensive training and completed their exams successfully, received their marriage officer qualifications.  All the Imams that enrolled for the marriage officer training course and who wrote the official examination of the Department of Home Affairs, passed.

These Imams from Gauteng graduate under a special project designed by the Department of Home Affairs specifically to enable Muslim religious leaders to become certified marriage officers. Their new status will enable them to solemnize marriages in terms of the Marriage Act.  Whilst they will continue to perform their duties to conduct Islamic marriage ceremonies, they will perform the civil duties expected in terms of the Marriage Act to enable registration of these marriages onto the National Population Register, thereby conferring legal certainty to these unions.

This graduation follows similar ones in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal where Imams have also qualified as marriage officers. In total approximately 130 Imams around the country have been certified as Marriage Officers by the Department of Home Affairs through this program aimed at popularising certification among Imams who conduct Nikkahs or Islamic marriages.

Deputy Minister Chohan took the initiative with this nation-wide project to enable Imams to qualify as marriage officers. She congratulated the Imams who graduated yesterday and expressed her  gratitude to the Department's Learning Academy and the Civics Service Branch for the role they played to make this occasion possible. “ We trust that the relationship and partnership established between the Imams and the Department will bear fruit and turn the tide of injustice that has been visited on many Muslim women and children in situations of death and divorce. Today, prospective Muslim couples have the choice to be married by Imams who are enabled to register their marriages at the Department of Home Affairs and thereby bring legal certainty to their marriage from the outset.

The Department of Home Affairs will continue with its initiative to get Imams across the country to qualify as marriage officers," she said.

Enquiries:  Adv André Gaum: 082 211 5572