South AFrica: Top cop sees lawyer on English

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Jan 30 12:44:06 UTC 2007

Top cop sees lawyer on English
29/01/2007 23:49  - (SA)

W Cape police 'too English'
English only, cops told

Johannesburg - The Western Cape's police commissioner has taken legal
advice following threats of court action over his English-only language
policy. "The good news is the commissioner of police has... gone to the
State attorney in Cape Town, who has asked to study our documents and
legal opinions," the director of the Centre for Constitutional Rights of
the FW de Klerk Foundation, Paul Hoffman, said on Monday. Hoffman said the
foundation would allow the other side to study its case and expected a
response within "a week or so". The foundation said on Thursday if had not
received a formal response from provincial commissioner Mzwandile Petros
by Monday, it would seek a court order forcing him to bring his language
policy in line with national police requirements.

The matter came to light after a group of Afrikaans-speaking members of
the police approached the foundation when they felt their language rights
were being trampled on. Afrikaans is the first language of two-thirds of
the population in the Western Cape. Hoffman said the provincial police's
deputy commissioner, Ganief Daniels, earlier on Monday told
radiosondergrense that police were sensitive to the rights of Afrikaans
speakers and that, in the near future, new standing orders would see these
sensitivities taken into account. The foundation said it hoped the problem
would see a "negotiated settlement".

Hoffman said according to the orders issued by the Western Cape SAPS, its
members should use only English for

radio communication
training of student constables
the completion of all official registers
criminal dockets and enquiry files
in all meetings "where language is an issue"
in the minutes of such meetings
in all written correspondence
in all circulars for general information and press releases.

Pointing out problems with the policy, Hoffman said that were an Afrikaans
police officer to be cross-examined in court using his English notes, he
would struggle to give a good account of himself. In a statement issued on
Thursday, Daniels said it was decided to use English internally for
practical purposes, because of the diversity of race groups in the
service. But he denied that Petros issued an instruction that SAPS members
should only communicate in English at all meetings, and that all
documentation and registers be completed in English.

"I wish to strongly deny this. The provincial commissioner has never at
any stage issued a verbal or written instruction of such a nature."
Hoffman said the English-only policy was illegal since it ignored national
police standing orders that at least two languages be used. It was also
unconstitutional in that it prevented Afrikaans and other native language
speakers from using their languages.,,2-7-12_2061575,00.html


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