After victory for Afrikaans in Stellenbosch, DA pressure forces the SAPS to withdraw its ‘English only’ policy

Issued by Okkie Terblanche MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Police
14 Apr 2023 in News

“All Provincial Commissioners will be instructed by the National Commissioner to withdraw any provincial language instruction, which is in conflict with national policy”.

This was the response to a written Parliamentary Question in which the Democratic Alliance DA queried why the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service SAPS issued an instruction that A1 victims’ statements would only be taken down in English.

Just like our victory at the University of Stellenbosch last month where the South African Human Rights Commission found that the SU violated the human rights of Afrikaans-speaking students, the DA considers this directive a huge victory.

On 13 March 2023, I wrote to both the National Police Commissioner and Western Cape Provincial Commissioner advising them that this instruction went against the provisions of both section 6 of the Constitution and the Use of Official Languages Act, 2012.

The Constitution requires that the national or any provincial government must use at least two official languages, taking into account the usage, practicality, expense, preference of the population and balance of needs.

The current instruction is nothing more than discriminatory in nature. To exclude all other 10 official languages, without any rational basis would be incredibly detrimental to the justice system and statements would become inaccurate and would potentially lead to victims not coming forward at all.

The A1 statement is the first line of defense for the victim to be heard and for justice to be done. In a province where Afrikaans, isiXhosa and many other languages are prominently used, to refuse the victim using their mother tongue would be a travesty of justice.

This is not the first time an instruction of this nature has been issued. This has happened before in Limpopo as well as in the Northern Cape. However, after the response from the Minister, the DA welcomes the removal of these discriminatory language policies from these provinces as well.

The DA looks forward to the public retraction of any exclusionary language instruction issued by a Provincial Commissioner of SAPS and will continue to ensure that victims are afforded the dignity, respect, and justice they deserve.