Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr. Paul Mashatile has noted the concerns expressed by South Africans, especially members of the Deaf community regarding the performance of the sign language interpreter at the Memorial service of former President Nelson Mandela.
"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," said Mashatile.
Government remains committed to the promotion and protection of all languages in South Africa, not only as a constitutional requirement but also as a fundamental human right.
"We have long recognised the need for the language profession to be reformed and improved. We hope to speedily begin regulating the profession in early 2014 through the South African Language Practitioners' Council Bill, so that this kind of incident doesn't happen ever again," he added.
Earlier this year the South African Language Practitioners' Council Bill was presented to Parliament. The Bill provides for the regulation of the language profession, it also seeks to regulate the training of language practitioners and provide for control of the accreditation and registration of language practitioners.
It also provides for the establishment of the South African Language Practitioners' Council, which should act as an advisory body to the Minister of Arts and Culture on issues affecting the language profession. The Council is also expected to prescribe the rules governing the conduct of language professionals and the procedures for compliance, monitoring and enforcement.
"We are confident that the measures in the Bill will go a long way towards elevating the status of the Language Profession; ensuring that it is properly regulated and that it contributes meaningfully to language preservation and development.
As a result of this Bill, the language profession will take its rightful place in on-going efforts to promote multi-lingualism and contributes towards the creation of an enabling environment for greater appreciation and understanding of languages in our country. The Bill also ensures that due recognition is given to the language profession and its role in our society," concluded Mashatile.