Language barrier stalls court cases 

Source: Language barrier stalls court cases – NewsDay Zimbabwe


HIGH Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi on Monday urged Zimbabweans to learn local languages in order to solve communication barriers in court, after a case was postponed because the litigants spoke Ndebele, and the interpreter conversant with the language was off duty.

Chitapi made the remarks after proceedings of the bail appeal for Ndlovu Dingani and Mandla Malunga had to be stopped because the duo did not understand neither Shona nor English, the languages which were being used in court.

The judge had to interpret to them, informing them that their matter had been postponed to today, when the Ndebele-speaking interpreter would be available.

“Due to COVID-19 lockdown, there is a limited number of staff at workplaces so the Ndebele interpreter is not at work today. Come back to court on Wednesday when the interpreter will be available,” Justice Chitapi said.

In another matter, Chivhu magistrate Fadzai Mthombeni had to postpone a case involving a minor with speech and hearing impairment, who was a victim of rape as she did not understand the sign language used by the interpreter during trial.

The child was not conversant with sign language, hence the magistrate ordered that the child be taught the language so that she would be able to testify in court.

Contacted for comment over the mishap, Judicial Service Commission spokesperson Rumbidzai Takawira said: “We have enough interpreters for local languages, but it was only a minor staff mismanagement which occurred that day.”