SA Sign Language will soon be the country's 12th official language

South African Sign Language (SASL) will soon officially be the country’s 12th language.


This was announced during a plenary sitting by the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday afternoon. The NA has approved the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development on the Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill [B1 – 2023] to amend section 6 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996.

The amendment to include South African Sign Language (SASL) as an official language is to promote the rights of persons who are deaf and hard of hearing.

South African Constitution currently allows for 11 official languages: English, Afrikaans, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, and isiNdebele.

The President, however, still needs to sign the Bill into law.

The Bill was introduced and referred to the Committee on 12 January 2023. Parliament’s spokesperson, Moloto Mathapo said the Committee was briefed by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development on the contents of the Bill on 27 January 2023.

He added that in response to the call for public comment, the Committee received 58 written submissions from individuals and organisations. The majority of the submissions were in support of the Bill.

‘’The Committee noted the opposing views expressed by a few commentators but submits that the recognition of SASL, as a twelfth official language, is an important step towards the realisation of the rights of persons who are deaf and hard of hearing. Further, the Committee acknowledged that SASL is not a universal language (different countries have their own sign language and regions have dialects) but submits that, in South Africa, it is in the promotion and development of SASL that the various dialects are also recognised,’’ said Moloto Mathapo, Parliament’s spokesperson.


Done By: Mitchum George


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