Sat Oct 22 15:38:16 SAST 2016

Challenge to state's exclusive use of English fails

By unknown | Jul 23, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Elisha Molefe

Elisha Molefe

The constitutional right to use all of the eleven official languages in the country received a setback last week.

The Mmabatho high court dismissed an application by Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) against North West's department of roads, transport and community safety in the number-plate saga on a technicality on Thursday.

This was the culmination of a court case in which a Potchefstroom man, Eugene Pretorius, had challenged the use of English in "almost all government communication".

Pretorius argued that Setswana, followed by Afrikaans as the main means of communication in the province, had been neglected.

He was supported by PanSALB, a body charged with promoting all indigenous languages of South Africa.

However, Judge A Landman ruled that PanSALB had to provide the complainant with the means to institute his case or hire the services of a legal practitioner rather than bring the application in its own name.

PanSALB's role, the judge ruled, is to be an impartial promoter of multi-lingualism.

Pretorius first lodged the case with PanSALB in 1999. The language board took the matter to court after a lengthy consultation with the department of roads, transport and community safety.

Pretorius was objecting to the slogan of The Platinum Province without provision being made for Afrikaans and-or Setswana- speaking people to have the same wording, in their respective languages.

After hearing the verdict, Pretorius said he had exhausted all possibilities that he believed were available to him.

Edward Sambo, legal adviser of PanSALB, said all was not lost as the judge had ruled that the department is already in the process of revising the vehicle registration system.

He said he has provided a copy of a new number-plate design which does away with the logo "Platinum Province" that was the basis of the application.


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