UFS can appeal language policy decision 

Legal counsel for the UFS on the left and those for AfriForum and Solidarity on the right. Photo: André Grobler

The University of the Free State (UFS) may appeal against an earlier court decision that has put the implementation of their new 2017 language policy on hold. 

A full bench of the Free State High Court has granted the UFS leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal if their direct appeal to the Constitutional Court in the matter is not allowed. It follows an earlier decision in favour of civil rights groups AfriForum and Solidarity’s bid to stop a proposed change to the university’s language policy. The UFS decided in March this year to make English the primary medium of instruction from 2017 onwards, while still providing sufficient scope for multilingualism at the university. 

The Free State High Court on Monday found that the UFS has convinced it that there were enough compelling reasons for the matter to possibly be judged differently by another court. In another application before the court, the judges held that their judgment of 21 July 2016, to review the language policy decision, remains in force pending the outcome of the appeals process. 

AfriForum and Solidarity said in reaction that the court’s decision was a second blow regarding the language policy.  AfriForum Deputy Head, Alana Bailey, said the UFS refused during the latest hearing to give an undertaking that the new language policy would not be implemented until the appeal had been concluded. “We had no choice but to approach the High Court with an urgent application in order to ensure that those who intended to study in Afrikaans in 2017, would actually have the right to do so.”

Deputy Chief Executive of Solidarity, Johan Kruger, said it was clear that, wherever practical feasible, the constitutional right to mother tongue education should be actively protected and claimed. “Afrikaans as medium of instruction has become a pawn in a thinly disguised political attack on Afrikaans campuses,” he said. The appeal was heard by Judge Eunice Mokgohloa, the Deputy Judge President of the Limpopo Division of the High Court, Judge Ronald Hendricks and Judge Abram Motimele.  – andreg@centralmediagroup.co.za 

André Grobler/Bloemfontein Courant