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10 May 2007

I would like to know why one cannot find a registered deed of transfer which is written in one of the official South African languages other than English and Afrikaans. I have not seen a single registered document at the Deeds Office which I mainly deal with and it has been just over 13 years into the new dispensation in South Africa.

I acknowledge that, should the Deeds Offices across the country register documents in languages other than the two mentioned above, all sorts of problems may arise. One being that we may not have enough conveyancers who are able to prepare documents in those languages; two being that we may not have sufficient competent deeds examiners who can examine those deeds/documents well enough. A third is that the financial institutions may not be willing and/or able to be supportive of this initiative.

Despite all these likely imminent stumbling blocks that I've mentioned and many others that one can think of, I feel that registration of the documents in all other languages should be encouraged. I suggest that the Law Society of South Africa's Property Committee should consider forming some sort of Legislation and Rules (or consider amending/adding to existing laws). Most of the citizens in this country do not use English or Afrikaans as a home language and, for that reason, I think they should be given the option to choose an official language they would prefer their documents to be written in. The Law Society would also have to look into providing some sort of training to practitioners who are not conversant in a language they would like to practice in. The financial institutions would have to follow suit by offering their clients an option to choose any local official language they would prefer.

It has been suggested by some practitioners that English should be used in all documents tendered for registration at the Deeds Office. I do not think it is fair that Afrikaans and all other official African languages must give way to English. If we are to promote the use of one language at the expense of others in our own country of birth, who will promote and encourage their usage?

Edgar Morake



Reader Comments: 4
Patrick Barnard 10/05/2007:

Good day, Mr. Morake!

Although I agree to your comments, I cannot help but otherwise wonder where our actual focus in our country is. Yes, it is in all probability (as you state) "unfair" to publish these legal documents in the two languages you have stated, however, should we not rather be concentrating on matters such as Safety and Security in our country and rendering an "Essential Service" to our community, rather than spend ever-scarce resources and money on things such as name changes and the like?!

Perhaps I miss the point somewhat, but I am sure you will agree that once we have straightened out the aforementioned, all else should fall in place.

Livesey 11/05/2007:

Morake seems to be unaware of the function of the registry, which is to be an repository of data relating to property and other rights which is easily available to the public for information. It is not a tower of babel for the expression of language rights and his suggestion is as impractical.

Marcia du Pont 14/05/2007:

I cannot understand that anybody can ask this question? In what language would the writer like all deeds to be translated to suite he question? Quite silly will I say. Why are there so many different dictioneries FOR ALL LANGUAGES and not only ONE for ALL LANGUAGES ? MAYBE "EDGAR" MUST REPLY TO MY QUESTION? Thanks Marcia

Petunia 17/05/2007:

While it is always encouraged for a persons mother tongue to be used when dealing directly with that person the actual document (deed of transfer) is very seldom if ever of any particular interest to the registered owner.

I do not understand the statement that it is "unfair" to only use English or Afrikaans. Is is not "unfair" to expect the industry serving the general population to learn 11 languages which would be necessary to ensure that no one ever feels this way? It will always be impossible to make everyone happy. The purpose of the document amoungst others, is to serve as documentary proof that it is owned by a particular person/s.

We must not loose sight of the fact that we are all endeavouring to expedite the registration process. To introduce all the other official languages would in all probability be detrimental to the registration process.

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