[lg policy] South Africa: SAPS NCape language instruction conflicts with Constitution – Solidarity

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Jun 2 10:24:50 EDT 2017

SAPS NCape language instruction conflicts with Constitution – Solidarity
Anton van der Bijl |
01 June 2017
Movement embarks on major litigation to fight 'irrational' English only

*Solidarity embarks on major litigation against controversial SAPS language
instruction *

*1 June 2017*

Solidarity today announced that it would take the language policy of the
SAPS in the Northern Cape to the High Court. This follows after Northern
Cape Deputy Provincial Commissioner issued a directive on 5 September 2016
in terms of which all statements made by the public have to be taken down
in English as from that date onwards. Police members are also expected to
translate all statements made in Afrikaans into English. Police members who
fail to obey the instruction could face disciplinary charges.

According to Anton van der Bijl, head of Solidarity’s Centre for Fair
Labour Practices, Solidarity’s application is calling for the instruction
to be set aside based on the fact that it is in conflict with the SAPS’s
own language policy as well as with the Constitution. “We submit this
application based on the irrationality of the decision and also on the
grounds of it being impractical. According to Statistics South Africa 53,8%
of the Northern Cape population prefers Afrikaans as first language, while
33% of the population is Tswana-speaking. Only 3,4% of the population is
English speaking. From a practical point of view, the use of English as
language medium in the Northern Cape does not make sense,” Van der Bijl

According to Van der Bijl, this is once again an example of an impractical
and irrational decision taken without regard to the public. “It is quite
frankly shocking that the decision was taken without considering its
practical effects and feasibility. We are now facing a situation where the
public will not receive proper service and one in which members of the
police will find themselves in the unenviable position of having to act as
interpreters without having the necessary qualifications and competencies.
The possibility of mistakes creeping into statements becomes all the more
likely,” Van der Bijl explained.

Papers will be served on the SAPS later today and the SAPS would then be
given a certain period within which to oppose the application, should they
wish to do so.

*Issued by Anton van der Bijl, Head: Solidarity Centre for Fair Labour
Practices, 1 June 2017 *

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