In 2009 an attorney from Brits, one Cornelius Lourens, in an endeavour to force the promulgation of the South African Languages Bill of 2003, made an application to court that government was in violation of the Constitution (Lourens vs The President of the Republic of South Africa and others, 2009). Lourens’s application was successful and government was given two years to promulgate a Languages Act. This would be the first national languages act in South Africa.

jIn response the Department of Arts and Culture has drafted the attached South African Languages Bill which is now before the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture. According to the attached Notice from Parliament, public submissions are now being called for.

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PanSALB has prepared its submission on the Bill, which is attached here. The submission is based on best international practices in many countries with an equitable language dispensation. A national language act is regarded as one of the core legislative mechanisms to regulate the use of the official languages. Such a language act often comprises the pre-eminent legal mechanism aimed at bringing about a form of official language equity. Canada’s renowned Bill 101 of the Charter of the French Language is regarded as a model national language act and is indeed considered to be a successful form of intervention. The same view prevails, to a varying extent, with regard to the role of national language acts in other countries and regions, including Catalonia, Scotland, Wales, Serbia and the former Soviet and Eastern Bloc states. 

However, the SA Languages Bill in its current form falls short of addressing our country’s inequitable language use. We therefore call on all groups and individuals interested in language to make their voice heard on this Bill by making a submission to the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture.

All submissions must be addressed to Mr Johnny van der Westhuizen (tel: 021 403 3714, cell: 083 709 8389), Committee Secretary, Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture.

  • delivery or mail to: 3rd Floor, 90 Plein Street, Cape Town 8001
  • fax: 086 544 5089
  • e-mail:
  • Parliamentary website:

Public hearings on the Bill will be held in the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 and Wednesday, 18 January 2012.

Should you wish to make further suggestions for PanSALB’s submission, please contact Advocate Linda Ramadi-Adebola on 012 341 9638 or email her on: on or before7 December 2011.



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