Civil rights group AfriForum vows to continue its legal battle to retain Afrikaans as a medium of instruction at the University of SA (Unisa).
Yesterday the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria turned down AfriForum’s application for an interim interdict to stop the implementation of the university’s new English-only policy pending the outcome of their bid to have the policy set aside.
AfriForum attorney Werner Human said the battle was not over and they would now focus on getting the review application before court before the end of the year so students would have certainty about how they should apply to study at Unisa.
AfriForum estimated that about 30 000 of Unisa’s 300 000 students would be affected by the new language policy. It maintained Unisa’s new policy violated the constitutional guarantee of a qualified right to choose a language of tuition in a public education institution.
Unisa argued that existing students who had begun studying modules in Afrikaans would be allowed to complete their studies in that language, but that the priority was now to promote the introduction of all 11 official languages.
The organisation will also fight an appeal by the University of the Free State in the Supreme Court of Appeal early in November against a ruling by a full bench of the high court that the university’s parallel medium language policy should be retained.
Referring to the Free State University judgment, Judge Roland Sutherland said Unisa’s policy decision might be set aside, but that AfriForum had failed to prove any affected person would suffer irreparable harm if an interdict was not granted.
He said the offerings in Afrikaans at Unisa were already slim, and existing students would be able to complete courses started in Afrikaans and would thus not be prejudiced.
The situation of prospective Afrikaans students preparing to learn in English would not differ from the vast majority of other potential students, whose mother tongues were neither English nor Afrikaans, he added.