Pretoria, 19 July 2023: The President of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Parliament, honourable Dikgang Morudu, welcomes the signing of the Sign Language Bill into law, by the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, as the 12th official language.
Members of the children’s parliament have been advocating for the recognition of the sign language as an official language to accommodate children who are deaf or hard of hearing. During their 10th sitting in 2021, the members of the children’s parliament appointed Hamza Muhammad as their President, a deaf boy from the Dominican School in the Western Cape.
Upon receiving the news Hamza said the signing of the bill into law “was good news for deaf people”.
“As a deaf person and former President of the Children’s Parliament, I have always wanted South Africa to make sign language official. I am happy to hear that President Cyril Ramaphosa has recognised it as an official language,” said Hamza.
He also added that the signing of the bill shows that there are no two separate worlds in the country.
“We are all human beings who live in one world and deaf people also have rights. I would like to thank the president for supporting deaf people in the country,” he said.
On July 14 2023, members of the children’s parliament continued to raise their voices on the recognition of sign language during their 11th sitting held in Bisho, Eastern Cape.
Honourable Morudu, the new president said the signing of the bill means that someone is starting to listen to the voices of the children and described it as good news especially coming from the Children’s Parliament.
The children’s parliament is held bi-annually by the department of social development in collaboration with the department of basic education, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, United Nations Children’s Fund and Save Children South Africa.
The new Sign Language legislation seeks to:
- Advance the cultural acceptance of SASL
- Ensure the realisation of the rights of persons who are deaf and hard of hearing to equal protection and benefit of the law and human dignity, and
- promote inclusive and substantive equality and prevent or eliminate unfair discrimination on the grounds of disability, as guaranteed by section 9 of the Constitution.
South Africa is now the 4th country on the African continent to recognise SASL as an official language after Zimbabwe, Kenya and Uganda.
ISSUED BY THE NATIONAL DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE NELSON MANDELA CHILDREN’S PARLIAMENT