South Africa: Language policy 'on trial'

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Thu Jun 14 13:39:38 UTC 2007


*Language policy 'on trial' *

*By Sibusiso Ngalwa*

The government has to take decisive action about the language policy in
South African courts, Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla said on Tuesday.
Mabandla was responding to ANC MP Abram Moseki, who had asked her what her
department was doing about language barriers in courts where witnesses could
not express themselves in their own languages.

English and Afrikaans remain the languages of record in the country's
courts, while other languages are translated by court interpreters. "It's a
very difficult matter but we need to take decisive action around that," she
said. Mabandla told the National Council of Provinces' select committee on
justice and constitutional affairs that the issue around languages would
also be discussed at a magistrates' conference in August.

The fact that only two languages continue to be used as languages of record
in courts is currently a topic which also forms part of the ANC's policy
discussion documents. Transformation of the judicial system will be
discussed later in June at the ANC's national policy conference in Gallagher
Estate. The document proposes that people should be able to express
themselves in their preferred languages and the government should promote
the use of other official languages in courts.

   - This article was originally published on page 3 of The Daily
News<>on June
13, 2007

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