Bail ruling again delayed in illegal marriages case

Judgment in the bail application of a couple charged with fraud and corruption for allegedly arranging illegal marriages between Bangladeshi nationals and South African citizens was postponed on Friday after the defence tore into the state’s case.

Ryno Scholtz, defence attorney for Bangladeshi national Abu Bokar, 35, told the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court that the state had failed to prove his client was a flight risk or that he would interfere with state witnesses.

Bokar, along with his South African co-accused Nomabandla Mangezi, 43, is accused of contravening the Immigration Act.

Prosecutor Craig Fillis said evidence, contained in two affidavits, showed the pair had recruited South African women to marry Bangladeshi nationals for payment.

Official documents including original marriage certificates, marriage registries, section 22 permits, passports and photographs of South Africans and foreigners were allegedly found at Mangezi’s flat in North End and a salon where she worked in New Brighton, as well as at a cellphone shop co-owned by Bokar in Govan Mbeki Avenue.

The state claimed that Bokar’s business was where most of the illegal deals had taken place.

Witness statements claim they were instructed to go there and have their fingerprints and photos taken with the promise of employment.

Bokar’s South African wife, Nompumelelo, a state witness, claimed in her statement that she had only found out she was married to Bokar when she tried to apply for a Mr Price account.

Scholtz disputed this, saying she had applied for, and been granted, a South African passport in her married name.

“How did [Bokar’s] wife get a South African passport in her married name if she didn’t know about the marriage?” he asked.

Tearing into immigration officer Ivan Klaasen’s statement, Scholtz said he found it peculiar that the home affairs official had not questioned Nompumelelo as to when she found out she had been married.

Mangezi’s defence attorney, Litha Rwexana, said his client’s personal circumstances, including that she had two minor children, should be taken into consideration in granting bail

Magistrate Sanjani Naidoo postponed the matter until April 18 for judgment.

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