The Registrar-General’s Office has weeded out 1 000 bogus marriage officers following the introduction of stringent requirements in 2012 to curb sham marriages, a parliamentary committee heard on Tuesday.

Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede told the Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development that the new, highly securitised marriage certificate had resulted in a reduction of marriages of convenience.

“We had over 2 000 marriage officers in the country. A large number of up to half that were pseudo marriage officers who had not been registered but were practising. We decided to stop them and we won.”

In 2012, the RG’s Office also said marriage officers could only collect the new certificates after producing practising certificate and a letter of confirmation from their head of denomination. The requirements, he said, saw shady marriage officers disappearing from the radar.

“We are now left with up to 1000 pastors and other practising officers,” Mr Mudede said.  “As you have noticed people are coming up with their churches and we have had meetings where we had to ban established churches, about three of them and they are still bothering us that they want to continue practicing. I even told their bishops that these people were sinning against God and people in the country because of their love for money hence forgetting the roles of marriage officers.”

The new document has a watermark, and passport size photos of the bride and groom and their thumb prints. Full names and national identity numbers of witnesses, as well as the marriage officer’s date stamp, are also part of the document.