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Language barriers between cops and victims of crime are hampering justice

8 July 2020 3:33 PM
Tags:
Police
Justice
language
sworn statement
Rhodes
Zakeera Docrat

Linguistic expert Zakeera Docrat tells John Maytham why there is an urgent need for cops to receive language training.

Language barriers between police officers and those reporting a crime in South Africa are hampering the pursuit of justice according to linguistic experts at Rhodes University.

Despite there being 11 official languages in South Africa, and it being only the sixth most commonly spoken home language, English is the sole official language of record.

PHD student Zakeera Docrat says linguistic training for cops is urgently needed:

What happens if the police officer doesn't understand what you are saying, or you can't speak the police officer's language?

Zakeera Docrat, Postdoctoral research fellow (Forensic Linguistics/ Language and Law) - Rhodes University

Whose version actually comes to court? That's the question we are posing.

Zakeera Docrat, Postdoctoral research fellow (Forensic Linguistics/ Language and Law) - Rhodes University

Docrat and her colleagues have coined the term 'transpreters' to describe the role of police officers who take down sworn statements.

They are acting as a translator where there is a different language, recording it in English...but the police officer might not even speak English.

Zakeera Docrat, Postdoctoral research fellow (Forensic Linguistics/ Language and Law) - Rhodes University

The person giving the statement might not even speak English, so there is even interpretation happening between those two people.

Zakeera Docrat, Postdoctoral research fellow (Forensic Linguistics/ Language and Law) - Rhodes University

Docrat says the potential for discrepancies between a victim's experience and their sworn statement admitted to a court have serious implications for justice.

Listen to the full interview below:


8 July 2020 3:33 PM
Tags:
Police
Justice
language
sworn statement
Rhodes
Zakeera Docrat

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