AfriForum wins significant victory for Afrikaans

In the wake of International Mother Language Day, the civil rights organisation AfriForum announced an important victory for Afrikaans, which entails the registration of a psychology student as an intern by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). AfriForum announced last week that it was assisting Du Toit Genis with a lawsuit against the council, after his application for registration had been refused simply because his honours degree certificate is in Afrikaans. The council has now accepted the certificate and finally registered him.

Genis is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Psychology. In order to complete his studies, he had to register with the council as an intern psychologist and, amongst other documents, submit a copy of the certificate confirming that he obtained an honours degree at the University of Pretoria in 2018. However, a representative of the HPCSA informed him that the registration process could not proceed, as the certificate is in Afrikaans. His repeated appeals for reconsideration fell on deaf ears, hence he approached AfriForum for help. As a lawyer’s letter to the HPCSA by AfriForum’s legal representative, Hurter Spies Incorporated, did not yield any results, a semi-urgent court application was submitted against the council. The legal representative of the HPCSA has now confirmed in writing that Genis is registered. The case has therefore been withdrawn.

According to Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s Head of Cultural Affairs, it is unacceptable that any student’s future can be put at stake due to an institution’s refusal to recognise one of the country’s official languages. “We are grateful that the issue has been resolved, but are concerned that a climate exists in which an official feels safe to make such an illegal decision. We appreciate that Genis did not follow the easy path of having his certificate translated, but was prepared to take a stand in a dignified manner within the legal framework for Afrikaans and on behalf of all other students facing a similar plight,” she says.

Willie Spies of Hurter Spies Incorporated stated that these events once again prove that language communities need civil rights watchdogs to intercede continuously for their language rights. “In this regard, AfriForum plays a vital role to ensure the maintenance of a healthy social order,” he adds.

Genis thanked AfriForum and Hurter Spies Incorporated for the help received, as well as the public and media for their overwhelming support. “It is good to know that there are organisations and people who are willing to take on an issue on behalf of someone who cannot do it on his own. I hope that the events may raise awareness about language rights and serve as motivation for people with similar problems, in order that they will also stand up for their rights,” says Genis.

Anybody experiencing similar discrimination is welcome to approach AfriForum at

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