Durban - The imminent passing of the South Language Practitioners’ Council Bill has nothing to do with the controversial performance of the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, says the Department of Arts and Culture.
Mogomotsi Mogodiri, spokesman for the department, told the Daily News on Monday it was “sheer coincidence” that the legislation was to come so soon after Thamsanqa Jantjie was lambasted for his “fake” interpretations at the service.
Mogodiri said last week that the Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, had noted the concerns expressed by South Africans, especially members of the deaf community, and hoped to begin regulating the profession as soon as possible.
“Without passing judgement, nobody should be allowed to undermine our languages. We sincerely apologise to the deaf community and to all South Africans for any offence that may have been suffered.
“We hope to speedily begin regulating the profession in early 2014 so this kind of incident doesn’t happen ever again,” Mashatile said.
The bill, presented to Parliament earlier this year, provides for the regulation of the language profession as well as regulation of the training of language practitioners.
It also provides for control of the accreditation and registration of language practitioners.
The bill will see the establishment of the South African Language Practitioners’ Council, which should act as an advisory body to the minister on issues affecting the language profession.
The South African Translators’ Institute (Sati), of which the South African Sign Language Interpreters are members, welcomed the announcement.
“The bill provides for control of the accreditation and registration of language practitioners.
“This will certainly help prevent incidents like that with Thamsanqa Jantjie at the Mandela memorial service last week,” Sati said.
Johan Blaauw, chairman of Sati, said on Monday that the bill would regulate the industry and people would only be able to appoint language practitioners who were accredited.
“Once legislation is in place, it’ll have to be policed to get rid of the fly-by-nights,” he said.