A summary of Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s decision to keep English as the language of record in courts
On 29 September 2017, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng announced that English is to remain the language of record in South African Appeal Courts. The topic of language in the legal system is a contentious one particularly in a country that has eleven official languages. Adendorff Attorneys summarises Justice Mogoeng’s key points:
1. Mogoeng stresses that the decision to uphold English as language of record was not made lightly.
2. The heads of courts, under the chairmanship of Magoeng, acknowledge that language is an emotive issue.
3. The heads of courts also acknowledge that people who aren’t allowed to communicate in their mother tongue feel disempowered.
4. The decision to use a single language facilitates efficiency and a smooth running of the court system.
5. Cases needed to be captured in one language that is understood by all the judges.
6. Not all appeal judges understand all eleven official languages.
7. South Africans can still speak in their mother tongue in court and attorneys can cross-examine witnesses in their home language.
At Adendorff Attorneys we support the rights of all South Africans to effective legal representation. We also believe it’s important that clients communicate in their mother tongue. As such we have in-house Xhosa interpreters and hold relationships with other language experts who can help our clients express their needs.
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