'It will be a good time to reflect', says Motsoaledi as marriage certificates won't be issued during lockdown

'It will be a good time to reflect', says Motsoaledi as marriage certificates won't be issued during lockdown

If you were planning to get married over the next three weeks, put those plans on hold - at least until the nationwide lockdown is over.

This is because the government will not be issuing any marriage certificates during this period.

The department of home affairs will be operating on skeleton staff, who will only be issuing three documents: temporary IDs, replacement birth certificates and death certificates.

These are being issued "because these are safe to reproduce, because information already exists in the system," according to home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

But there will be no applications for new ID documents - and neither will passports be issued because there is no movement of people allowed, added the minister.

"We won't issue any marriage certificates, new or old, because there won't be any emergency [requiring marriage]. You can wait until the 21 days," said Motsoaledi.

"Maybe the 21 days will also give you time to think whether you want to get married or not. It will be a good time to reflect," he added.

He also explained that all South African border posts will be closed to people while the country was in lockdown.

The state closed 35 of the country's border posts last week following President Cyril Ramaphosa's declaration of a national state of disaster. Motsoaledi said the 18 border posts that remained open will going forward be "totally closed" to human movement and only be allowed to convey goods from midnight on Thursday.

"They will continue conveying essential goods between South Africa and neighbouring countries," he said.

Special arrangements will be made for foreign nationals who use South African medical services for treatment.

Motsoaledi revealed that criminal charges would be laid against three people who have allegedly been distributing "fake news" on social media about Chinese nationals illegally crossing the Mozambican border into this country.

"I want to state categorically that the pictures that were making rounds were not from the Lebombo border post. This is fake news."

Motsoaledi explained that the Chinese nationals were part of a group of people that landed at OR Tambo International Airport last Friday but could not disembark due to the new restrictions barring flights from high-risk countries.

He said the aircraft was sent back and landed in China on Sunday.

"It was with shock that some of us saw this picture that they were in Mozambique. This fake news tends to be more dangerous than the virus."

Motsoaledi said this would be a test of whether people posting fake news could be charged or not.