[lg policy] Language board to challenge court on its refusal to allow Jacob Zuma's lawyer to speak isiZulu

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Fri May 24 15:00:28 EDT 2019


Language board to challenge court on its refusal to allow Jacob Zuma's
lawyer to speak isiZulu
By NIVASHNI NAIR - 22 May 2019
<https://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2019-05-22-language-board-to-challenge-court-on-its-refusal-to-allow-jacob-zumas-lawyer-to-speak-isizulu/#>
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<https://www.dispatchlive.co.za/news/2019-05-22-language-board-to-challenge-court-on-its-refusal-to-allow-jacob-zumas-lawyer-to-speak-isizulu/#>
[image: Jacob Zuma's advocate, Muzi Sikhakhane, had planned to deliver his
10-minute opening address in isiZulu, but was told it was against court
policy.]
<https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/t4KQrqc0YdA4WmsTZhx-rc7S3JQkR3mzEfYEW-CYJ0q5Y9SgCMkq_Ai9O75TlGq9cufvipaCeKcJDvfoBIbyoQ=s1200>
Jacob Zuma's advocate, Muzi Sikhakhane, had planned to deliver his
10-minute opening address in isiZulu, but was told it was against court
policy.
Image: Jackie Clausen

The Pan South African Language Board (PanSalb) will pursue a meeting with
chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng to object to "the continuous assault and
discrimination" against  indigenous languages.

This after former president Jacob Zuma's lawyer was not allowed to deliver
his 10-minute opening address in isiZulu on Monday.

The board on Wednesday said the Pietermaritzburg High Court demonstrated
the continued ostracism of historically marginalised South African official
languages by the court of law when it refused advocate Muzi Sikhakhane the
right to address it in isiZulu.

"The assault on historically marginalised South African indigenous official
languages received a boost from an apparent resolution which was passed in
a Heads of Courts meeting held in October 2014 that the language of record
for courts should be English. A report went further to state that the
resolution was reaffirmed in a recent Heads of Courts meeting held on March
31 2017," the board said.

Sikhakhane had planned to deliver his opening address in Zuma's application
for a permanent stay of prosecution in isiZulu, but was told in judge's
chambers on Monday morning that he would have to speak English.

"The court had agreed that I would do the opening in isiZulu, but I was
then informed that I could not do so due to a policy from the chief
justice," he told TimesLIVE.

Sikhakhane was unaware of PanSalb's decision to take up his matter.
However, he was "happy that it had decided to challenge the policy".

"I am happy, but not just for this matter. I would be happy if they would
start forcing our courts and every institution to respect African people
and their languages. I would love anyone to challenge whoever, from the
chief justice to the president, down to every department, about people and
their language and culture," he said.

The board's chief executive officer, Dr Rakwena Monareng, said he had been
trying for years to speak to the justice system about its exclusion of the
nine marginalised South African official languages: Sesotho sa Leboa,
Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and
isiZulu.

"Since 2017, in my capacity as the chief executive officer of PanSALB, I
have been trying to seek a discussion with the Heads of Courts about this
resolution, without any success," he said.

The board said there was a constitutional obligation on the state to take
practical and positive measures to elevate the status of and advance the
use of the nine languages.

"Considering these obligations and also that the Use of Official Languages
Act (Act No. 12 of 2012), in essence, fosters multilingualism within
working spaces and beyond, in the spirit of social cohesion and nation
building, which is being currently undermined by our courts."

The office of the chief justice had not responded to queries at the time of
publishing.

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 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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