Open letter to Chief Justice regarding official court language

Several prominent academics and language activists, including AfriForum’s Alana Bailey and Annelise de Vries, have addressed an open letter to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, questioning the decision announced in the Sunday Times of 15 April 2017 that English would henceforth be the only official language of record in South African High Courts. This letter follows after correspondence addressed to the Chief Justice in private had not elicited any response.

The group questions the Heads of Court’s authority to make such a one-sided decision, as well as the constitutionality thereof. They also express concern that the decision does not attest to any insight into the multilingual nature of the South African society and creates the danger that the rights of victims of crime, as well as those of the accused and law practitioners will be violated as a result thereof.

An urgent appeal is launched to the Chief Justice for meaningful engagement and consultation with all stakeholders regarding the future of official languages of record in South African courts.

AfriForum lobbies for South African language rights in general and Afrikaans language rights in particular. It is in the interests of all South African citizens that a multilingual approach is followed in courts.

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