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Judicial system must move away from using only English

“South Africa’s judicial system will serve the country’s people a lot better if it moved away from mainly using English and if it incorporated all 11 official languages into the system on all levels,’ Corné Mulder, FF PPlus Chief Whip, said during the  budget vote debate of the Office of the Chief Justice and Judicial Administration on Wednesday.

Mulder referred to a report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for the Office of the Chief Justice that only mentions language in a single sentence where it states that studying indigenous African law is an integral part of practicing law in South Africa.

He reminded parliament that Section 6 of South Africa’s Constitution recognises all 11 official languages of our country.

"English is not the lingua franca of the people"

 

“In Section 6(2) an obligation is placed on the state to take practical and positive measures to elevate the status and advance the use of these languages.

 “The government admits that the courts must be accessible to everyone and thus it is important to note that language plays a significant role in making the judicial system accessible to all.

“The reality is that in many cases, particularly in rural areas, English is not the lingua franca of the people.

“The question that the government and the Chief Justice need to answer is whether South Africa is busy moving in the wrong direction as regards language. Courts are becoming unilingual and English is the language that is mainly used.

“It is important to elevate and develop all the official languages; including in the courts and judicial system. It would send a good message if law faculties across South Africa were told that they must not only use English as a medium of instruction, but that they must also incorporate other African languages into their training programmes.

“Using only English is not on the best interest of the people of South Africa. It does not make the courts accessible to all and it is in contravention of our Constitution,” Mulder said.

 

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