Engaged: Donovan Wynne and Michael Cronje

The Department of Home Affairs has officially apologised to an engaged gay couple who were denied their right to marry by a Port Elizabeth branch.

Michael Cronje and Donovan Wynne were told by the North End, Port Elizabeth Home Affairs last month that the office does not “do” gay marriages. Their story was first reported by the Daily Dispatch.

On Tuesday, Home Affairs Eastern Cape Provincial Manager Sonto Lusu personally apologised to the couple telephonically.

“She apologised for the way we were treated. She was very sincere in her apology and very gracious,” Cronje told Mambaonline.

“She offered to arrange for an officer of the court to marry us immediately, but I told her that we have had enough of Home Affairs and we will marry privately,” he said. The couple plan to marry on the 1st of October through a private marriage officer.

Lusu told The Herald that while individual marriage officers are legally entitled to refuse to marry same-sex couples, every Home Affairs Office must be in a position to assist same-sex couples.

““We are investigating this issue. If an office finds itself in a situation where none of their staff is prepared to marry a couple, they must contact the provincial office and a plan will be made,” she said.

The apology followed the intervention of Lance Weyer, a DA Councillor in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality, who contacted the DA’s Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, MP Annette Lovemore. She in turn contacted the Director-General of Home Affairs.

“Why does the Department of Home Affairs even entertain the appointment of marriage officers who are not prepared to conduct civil unions?” commented Weyer on his blog.

“The men in question, and other gay couples like them, are in love, and they wish to show their commitment to each other by entering into a civil union. They have a constitutional right to do so,” he said.

According to Weyer, the DA plans to bring up the issue in Parliament as soon as possible.

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