Sign language closer to becoming SA’s 12th official language

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Parliament has started the legislative process to make sign language South Africa’s 12th official language.
Last year, Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Ronald Lamola submitted the Constitution’s 18th Amendment Bill in Parliament after it was published in the government gazette for public input.

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice has been briefed by the department on the 18th Amendment.
Deputy Minister of Justice, John Jeffery explained.

“There was already provision in the constitution for promotion of sign language-now is being moved up to be an official language. There might be a minority but as I said nobody is left behind.”

Justice Department’s Regomoditswe Baloyi says, “The comments highlight the current lack of accessibility by persons who are deaf and welcomed the constitutional amendments. Some commentators, however, expressed concerns about the costs of the implementation.”

But some lawmakers have rebutted the cost argument for the implementation of the Bill.

“The argument of the cost – that it is too expensive to have interpreters, etc… That argument should not be used as an excuse in the costing of this eighteenth amendment,” claims ANC MP Wilma Newuhoudt-Druchen.

“We know that historically, there has been disgruntlement about the manner in which has been given effect to the development and the equitable treatment of all our official languages,” argues DA MP Werner Horn.

The Justice Department expects all departments to budget for the implementation of the proposed legislation.

“There was already a provision in the constitution for the promotion of sign language. Now it’s been moved up to an official language. They might be a minority but as I said it’s important, nobody is left behind,” says Deputy Justice Minister.