Forged Marriage Certificates Surface Amid Zimbabweans’ Pursuit of UK Care Jobs

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HARARE – A whistle-blower has raised alarming claims that forged marriage certificates, including those fraudulently pairing siblings as married couples, are being used as part of schemes to secure employment with care agencies in the United Kingdom.

Thousands of Zimbabweans have been drawn to the UK’s care industry, joining diverse migrant communities from countries such as Nigeria, India, Romania, Poland, and the Philippines. However, the whistle-blower alleges that the process of obtaining visas and care jobs has been corrupted by widespread forgery.

The whistle-blower, who has sought help and counseling after his wife allegedly took their child to the UK without his permission and altered the child’s documents through forgery, says he has initiated legal action against his wife in Zimbabwe.

“I have been invited on BBC to testify on my ongoing issue. I also did my interview with the Home Office online and told them everything,” he stated.

He detailed several concerning practices, including:

  • Forging marriage certificates to show siblings as spouses for visa purposes.
  • Forging documents to support claims about children and their schooling.
  • Buying and forging work references.
  • Bribing local officials for traditional marriage letters of recommendation.
  • Buying and forging Red Cross and St John’s certificates.
  • Bribing furniture companies to backdate documents as evidence of marriage.
  • Harbouring fellow Zimbabweans in UK homes without notifying the Home Office or local council.
  • Selling Certificates of Sponsorship (CSOs) and employing fellow Zimbabweans as childminders or maids.

Reports of exploitation within the Zimbabwean community in the UK have emerged, particularly by those who run care agencies. In February, The Guardian reported that a care company charged migrant workers from Africa exorbitant fees for UK jobs, far exceeding the actual visa costs.

According to The Guardian, Zimbabwean care workers paid Gloriavd Health Care Ltd thousands of pounds to secure social care jobs in Leeds and Bath. They were promised ample paid work but were instead housed in overcrowded conditions, received minimal wages, and were threatened with deportation if they complained.

Winnet Mushaninga, a qualified care worker from Zimbabwe, provided evidence of bank transfers totaling £5,500 to the company. However, upon arrival in the UK, Mushaninga claimed she was forced to live with three others in a single room, sleeping on mattresses on the floor, earning just £20 a day, and relying on a church food bank for sustenance.

“The trauma and suffering was too much. We paid a lot of money. It’s just painful,” Mushaninga stated. She is now one of several care workers being supported by the Leeds branch of Acorn, a community union advocating for justice.

The Home Office charges no more than £551 for a care worker visa and £536 for a sponsor license for small companies to bring in foreign workers. The discrepancy between these costs and the fees charged by unscrupulous agencies highlights the need for regulatory scrutiny and protection for vulnerable migrant workers.