Rights ruling for languages

A BRITS attorney has won the first round of his battle to force the government to honour its constitutional duty towards South Africa's official languages.

A BRITS attorney has won the first round of his battle to force the government to honour its constitutional duty towards South Africa's official languages.

Judge Ben du Plessis yesterday ruled in the Pretoria high court that the government had not, in terms of the Constitution, regulated and monitored the use of official languages.

He instructed Arts and Culture Minister Lulu Xingwana, in her capacity as the responsible Cabinet member, to comply with the stated obligation within two years or to ensure there was the necessary compliance. The court also ordered the minister to pay the costs of the applicant, Brits attorney Cerneels Lourens.

Du Plessis said the government started out honouring its obligation but that the process came to a standstill in 2007.

Delivering his judgment in Afrikaans, Du Plessis said an English judgment would be insensitive towards Lourens in the light of the rights he was trying to protect.

Du Plessis said the country had 11 official languages, which meant that officials in the government could be addressed in any of those.

Lourens said he felt relieved at the ruling. - Sapa

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