A self-confessed bigamist claims he didn’t know he was breaking the law when he married two women in two days. Vernon Mentoor, 33, from Strand, is a very worried man after the pastor who married him the first time reported him to Home Affairs.
The driver claims he didn’t know he was in the wrong when he married the mother of his 11-year-old son, Shanine Biza, 32, on Friday night in a “quicky ceremony”, presided over by Reverend Oscar Bougardt of Calvary Ministries in Strandfontein. Vernon claims he married Shanine in a “split-second decision” after he had a panic attack about his son’s future.
Neither of the new brides knew about the other’s wedding. A few hours later, on Saturday, he tied the knot with his girlfriend of three years in Grabouw, followed by a R20 000 reception. Bougardt tells Daily Voice he found out about the deception when he went to register Vernon and Shanine’s marriage at Home Affairs on Monday. “When they tried adding it to the system it said he married another woman on Saturday and it wasn’t the woman I married him to,” he says angrily. When the Daily Voice met with Vernon on Wednesday, he was wearing two wedding bands on his ring finger. When asked about the black and gold rings, he quickly removed them.
Vernon insists he is not a cheat and only married his baby mama to secure his son’s future. “I’m not in a relationship with my child’s mother, we are good friends,” he says. “I was planning to marry my girlfriend of three years and we started preparations weeks ago and spent R20 000. “But on Thursday my colleagues and friend started talking to me, they made me all panicky. “They said something could happen to me, then my wife gets everything and my child nothing. “I thought, let me get married to my child’s mother to secure my child’s future, it wasn’t for love.” Vernon says he found Bougardt’s details on the internet; he charges R500 for a marriage. “I contacted him the Thursday and asked my child’s mother to get married the Friday,” Vernon says.
“On Saturday I got married to my girlfriend whom I love and I didn’t mean to hurt her or anyone, I’m not a player or a cheat. “I’ve only been with one woman.”
Vernon says he only realised he had made a big mistake when an angry Bougaadt called him to say he was already wed. This week he consulted a lawyer to get him out of the “big mess”. “If I knew this was going to get me into so much trouble, I would never have done it. I didn’t know it was wrong,” he insists.
According to Hoodah Abrahams-Fayker from the Women’s Legal Centre, bigamy is illegal in South Africa, and the bigamist may be imprisoned. Bougardt has since reported a case of bigamy to the Department of Home affairs. “I had followed procedure, I checked via the SMS line with Home Affairs before carrying out the marriage to see his status and it said single,” the rev explains. He told Vernon to come clean with his wives, but the bigamist “didn’t have the guts to do it”.
A disgusted Bougardt says it’s no wonder Vernon kept everything hush hush on Friday. “He didn’t want to take any photos. He said he was in love with his wife and needed to leave for Durban, that’s why | needed to marry them [so quickly].” The rev broke the news to Shanine himself, who chose not to comment. “I don’t want to speak about this,” she told Daily Voice.
His second wife only found out her marriage was illegal yesterday when the Daily Voice contacted her for comment. Henriett Steedsman was too devastated to speak after that.