Too few Afrikaans interpreters saw woman thrown in deep end

2014-03-05 00:00

MOST court interpreters refuse to translate from Afrikaans to any other language because they see Afrikaans as the language of the oppressor and they are not fluent in it.

Sister paper Beeld has learned that this refusal caused the Department of Justice to rely on the services of about 20 “freelance” interpreters. It was in an attempt to solve this problem that Veruschka Bosch was appointed as a court interpreter in the Pretoria high court, despite having barely a year’s experience, and that only in the lower courts.

The errors she made in translating the testimony of the state’s first witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial have been criticised around the world.

Bosch had previously interpreted in the Hatfield court, the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court and in the Pretoria commercial court.

A proposal to contract advocate William Manzini, who in his day was described as the “best court interpreter in the country”, to translate from Afrikaans to English in the Pistorius trial, had fallen on deaf ears.

New in her post, Bosch was then “bullied” into translating the testimony of Michelle Burger, despite emphasising that she was not experienced enough to translate the legal terms that would be used in such a high-profile case.

She was also very nervous because the court proceedings would be broadcast across the world, Nadia Grobler, a member of Bosch’s family, said yesterday.

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