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790 couples to re-apply for certificates as Sheria offices to reopen

By Christopher Owuor
Friday, June 5th, 2020
State Law Office Chief Administrative Secretary Winnie Guchu in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

Irene Githinji  @gitshee

At least 793 couples will now be required to apply afresh for registration of their marriages once operations at Sheria House resume.

State Law Office Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Winnie Guchu yesterday said the department could soon be reopening marriage ceremonies once the Ministry of Health inspects the premises and gives a go-ahead.

“The Ministry of Health will inspect the premises next week to give a go-ahead of our operations.

If allowed, we will start with clearing backlog that has accumulated since coronavirus cases were reported and had to stop operations,” said Guchu, who spoke from Sheria House.

She said only five people will be allowed to take part in the ceremony.

The five people will include a marriage registrar, the couple and two witnesses and will take place in open-air setting.

There has been a backlog of  registration of marriages, which has necessitated the office of the Attorney General to resume operations.

Before coronavirus disease struck, the office of the Attorney General had received 815 applications, which are usually valid for 90 days.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, at least 793 couples’ licences have expired and will now be forced to apply afresh while 22 others are still valid.

Couples are required to pay Sh3,900 while conducting a marriage at Sheria house but those in the 793 category will not pay additional fees.

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“For someone to conduct a marriage, it should take place within 90 days since the date of application so what has happened because of coronavirus, only 22 cases timeline have not expired while remaining 793 period has expired. If we are to issue certificates to 793 couples, their certificates will not apply legally,” said Guchu.

She added that all applications will now be done online through a portal in e-citizen platform, in an effort to reduce human traffic and congestion at Sheria House.

There are also 1,754 applications for Christian and Hindu marriages but those in this category will now be required to pick their certificates, having applied online.

Guchu said the 21-day notice period required will be issued, once they are given a go ahead and they can begin conducting the ceremonies little by little.

Couples undergo three stages before their marriage can be made official at Sheria House but now they will only be required to visit the premises once.

“We are looking for premises to allow registrars of marriage to conduct many ceremonies simultaneously but couples will be given their privacy. The Ministry of Health will give guidelines on up to how many people can attend,” said Guchu.

Last month, Registrar-General Mary Njuya temporarily halted marriage ceremonies at Sheria House to allow the department develop a strategy on handling high number of clients in compliance with Ministry of Health guidelines on preventing the spread of coronavirus.

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