Local Muslim couple the first to legally register their marriage

Sulyman Samuels and wife, Abeeda Anthony, from Sandvlei, Macassar show off their newly issued SA marriage certificate.

A couple residing in Sandvlei, Macassar, made national history recently in becoming the first married Muslim couple to legally register their Nikah marriage at the Department of Home Affairs.

Sulyman Samuels and his wife, Abeeda Anthony registered their marriage at the Mitchell’s Plain Home Affairs office on Wednesday October 25 and describes the process as an easy and efficient one.

Once registered, couples receive a SA marriage certificate which will be registered on the National Population Register.

Bolander reached out to them to find out about their experience in this historical moment.

“So, for us to be the first Muslim couple to register our marriage legally in South Africa, the very first, it was very exciting for us,” says wife, Abeeda.

Husband, Sulyman Samuels says that among the two of them, he was surely the most excited, but adds that to them it was also a big relief.

Registering their marriage legally means a lot to the couple. Abeeda elaborates on why this is. “What it means to both of us is that things will be much easier because we struggled to get our children’s birth certificates because of the different surnames, because we were married with our Muslim certificate, but both with different surnames and we wanted the children to be on Sulyman’s surname,” she says.

To which, Sulyman adds and describes how things on this front were “very difficult and frustrating”. “It’s a big relief to not have to worry about some of that struggles anymore,” he says.

The process to legally register their marriage was an easy one. “It was actually surprisingly very easy,” Abeeda says, adding how her husband went to the office to make the appointment the day before after which they were instructed to show up for the appointment the next day and take along all their certified documents and witnesses.

They received their SA marriage certificate on the same day. A memorable moment for the couple.

As to offering any advice to other married Muslim couples in following their example, Sulyman says: “I would advise other couples to register themselves, I’ve already been telling my friends and family because in the future it will benefit them and make things easier on the women as well when it comes to getting the children registered on the fathers’ surnames.

“You know all the difficulties we had to face without being registered and so forth, so registering your marriage will make things easier for everybody. So I would really recommend people to register themselves on the system.”

Earlier this year, cabinet approved a Minimalistic Bill that was submitted by Al Jama-ah’s leader and Member of Parliament, Ganief Hendricks, for the registration of a Nikah certificate; this is a Muslim marriage performed according to Sharia (Islamic Law).

In a press release issued on Thursday October 26, by Al Jama-ah Party the party said the marriages of Muslims have never been recognised; and this non-recognition has caused “untold harm to the dignities of Muslim women and children.“

“The births, deaths and nikahs of Muslims are now on the South African National Population Register – a right of every South African citizen – otherwise our progeny may be treated like foreigners or refugees,” says Mr Hendricks.

• Bolander attempted to contact the Department of Home Affairs spokesperson to obtain confirmation on the registration and certification of the marriage reported on.

First attempts to contact provincial media offices by calling the contact listed for Samuel Plaatjies and the land-line numbers of the department proved futile, as the landline numbers were unanswered on numerous occasions and the cellphone number is no longer in existence.

Bolander then reached out to the national office – first Siyabulela Qoza, chief director for communications in the department, who did not answer the call, then followed up with sending him a message with the media enquiry.

This was not responded to.

Then Bolander reached out to national spokesperson Thabo Mokgola, by calling his number, he did not answer the call and asked to be sent a message. Which we did and he then instructed Bolander to send the enquiry to David Hlabane.

Bolander called Mr Hlabane on his cellphone, but he did not answer and followed up with an email, as instructed by Mr Mokgola and a subsequent text to ask about receipt of the email.

The comprehensive email explained the request for official confirmation from the department and the deadlines for this request.

Bolander made one last attempt before deadline by calling Mr Hlabane again on Friday November 3, but received no answer and left a voice message, asking him to return the call.

Phone calls to the Mitchell’s Plain Department of Home Affairs on all numbers listed on the department’s website went unanswered as well as an email to the office manager.

None of the email and text messages/phone calls were responded to by the Department of Home Affairs officials at the time of going to print.

Should the department respond to the media enquiry, this will be reported on when received by Bolander.