n South African Law Journal - The tower of Babel - language usage and the courts

Volume 124, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0258-2503
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2177



South Africa has eleven official languages and yet only two of them (ie English and Afrikaans) are languages of record for the purpose of judicial proceedings. Given the fact that the Constitution recognizes nine other so-called indigenous languages, it becomes necessary to consider the status that these languages enjoy in the courts. This contribution examines this issue, as well as the logistical difficulties that would arise with eleven different languages of record, as well as the impact of language usage on the right to a fair trial.

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