Language barrier persists in Tribunal proceedings


A report by the South African Citizen discusses the language barriers still present in the Republic today.

The piece, entitled “Tribunal struggles with Afrikaans” by Antoinette Slabbert, notes that the RSA Competition Tribunal has decided to have testimony given in Afrikaans transcribed, together with its English translation, “to ensure the court properly captures what a witness was trying to say.”

The underlying case is the Competition Commission’s case against Media24, alleging an abuse of dominance by squeezing its competitor, Gold-Net News, out of the market for advertising in community newspapers in the Free State Gold Fields between 2004 and 2009.

The Citizen reports:

Tribunal chairperson Norman Manoim asked whether Van Eck would mind testifying in English, since he was concerned about the quality of the translation of her responses the previous day. Media24′s legal team objected, saying Van Eck was already assisting the tribunal by taking questions in English.

The legal representative of the commission pointed out that Van Eck’s English was good. Both legal teams shared Manoim’s concern about the English interpretations. Van Eck said she prefered testifying in her home language to better express herself.

Earlier, Wian Bonthuyzen, Van Eck’s former manager and a key witness, switched from Afrikaans to broken English during his testimony, after another interpreter failed to properly convey his responses to the tribunal.

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