Updated: Nov 8, 2020
I am republishing this post because I got a few inquiries from clients. It was first written in April 2019 but with the changing of websites got lost. Nothing has changed:
“You may be saved considerable time and anguish by reading here. Like many others that lost a loved one to God, I was blessed beyond belief when I met a Swiss American woman, a soulmate, and one I got married to recently inside South Africa. The difficulties started when the marriage had to be registered and if not registered at Home Affairs it is not a legal marriage, it is that simple and thus open for abuse by those knowing full well what power they have over you.
The law changed, I believe in 2014, and now states that before a South African citizen can legally marry a foreigner inside South Africa, that is anyone not having SA citizenship, the couple must first see an immigration officer at Home Affairs to convince him through documents and an interview that the marriage is for real, not a fake affair to gain South African citizenship and or a passport in the future. Fair enough, anyone reading here can see the value in that effort to combat fraud (very rampant here). I must ask though, why would a first world citizen ever want a SA passport? It is silly in outlook but anyway, it is a road of anguish, annoyance, and outright frustration. So much so that I advise you to forget about such a marriage, go to another country and get married there. Take your money with you also and spend nothing here.
We went to Home Affairs seven times (yes, only seven times, I am somewhat relieved, it took me more visits than that to get a simple passport and unabridged birth certificate out of them). We encountered riots by the ruling party, ANC, which left one office closed and us with empty hands. We had one fellow that did not even know his own head office called Randburg, he got upset when I asked him if he is stupid which he is. We had another that did his best not to assist us with an attitude that defies description and based on what is generally known as the “short man syndrome” if not racism or both. It took three tanks of petrol and two weeks to get the one official (name withheld on purpose) able and willing to listen to our sad story and assist. Without that fellow, we would have flown to another country and got married there. It is not worth the annoyance here, really not, it is beyond disgusting or words to describe the effort.
Should you try, good luck, you will need your SA Identity Card or old ID book with the bar code. She will need her passport and a police clearance in her own country. You will need to show your divorce papers – the order of court and attachments (settlement agreement) if divorced or the death certificate of your late spouse if a widower. The same for the foreigner (wife to be), and translated to English, original documents, remember that, and a letter from her embassy stating that she is divorced / widowed and thus able to marry again. Ah, and a letter from your 79-year-old mom stating, this is all under oath, that she is aware of the marriage taking place and approve.
Since there are no legal requirements noted down in law the immigration officer may ask for whatever other documents he wants and you will comply. The interview itself is friendly or ours was, again, it depends, I heard some horror stories in that regard too. You will explain where you met, why you wish to be married, what your plans are, have you met the parents, kids, etc. Thereafter the letter is issued (not to you) and the marriage officer must fetch it from the immigration officer before the marriage takes place. Without that letter, your marriage will NOT be registered, end of story. The immigration officer doing the interview must be at the same Home Affairs office where the marriage officer is registered. He is a busy man, he is never available after nine AM and will always make the interview appointment three months down the line but hey, both of you must attend for making the interview and of course, attending it. There is zero efficiency, no willingness (in general) to assist you and it will test your love for each other to the very limits. Don’t make a mistake, I will walk through fire for my wife but think twice before attempting such a marriage in this country. It is not worth the hassle or the annoyance and yes, shame, shame to the impression left on people used to better. All my positive comments of “This is not like the African countries you see on television, we are different…” was proven wrong. Never again, even Nigeria would be more efficient. And lastly, NO, you must do this yourselves, not through a marriage agency or someone else, you yourself.”
But I am glad to say that we found an immigration officer willing to assist us. A man that I liked at first sight. I was so grateful that I called one of my other books after him. Nevertheless, the process is so bad that I will stand by my advice, don't even bother. Go to another country and get married there. You don't want to put yourself through such crap.