• July 12th, 2020

Casual interpreters on strike over contracts

WINDHOEK - Casual interpreters at the Windhoek High Court are refusing to render interpreting services until they receive permanent contracts from the Office of the Judiciary.

Speaking to New Era this week Elifas Helao Nghitomoka, the group’s spokesperson, said that they have engaged the Office of the Judiciary and the Office of the Registrar of the Supreme and High Courts on their plight.

They say they need job security in this vile economic climate and need contracts even if only temporary until a permanent solution can be found.

Currently, Nghitomoka said, they are only utilised when needed on a casual basis and are being compensated accordingly which does not bode well for their financial stability.

He is however thankful to the judiciary for the opportunity, but lamented the fact that only persons with at least a Grade 12 certificate can be appointed as interpreters. 

They want the minimum to be relaxed for persons fluent in the languages they are interpreting.
According to Nghitomoka, many people are fluent in English and several other languages, but since they do not hold university degrees or high school diplomas are deprived of the opportunity to render their skills.
Elsie Schickerling, the registrar of the superior courts, in a communique to the Office of the Judiciary also came to the aid of the casual interpreters, but voiced her concern about the fact that they are free to freelance their services to litigants in civil and labour matters which they prefer to do as it is economically more viable for them compared to the rates paid by the court.

She further stated that the court often finds itself in an untenable position that criminal matters have to stand down because of a lack of interpreters.

According to her, the court is facing a situation where it cannot execute its mandate due to the fact that they simply do not have enough interpreters to satisfy their needs.

She further stated that interpreting is a skill which requires experience, a thorough knowledge of court terminology and a basic understanding of court processes and not just anyone from the street can be an interpreter.

“Making use of an unskilled interpreter amounts to justice denied as the evidence so being interpreted will not reflect the correct translation,” the registrar stated.

For this and many other reasons, Schickerling said, the High Court wants to bring to the attention of the administration in the judiciary that it will be forced to close operations in the criminal stream, should the occasional interpreters at any point refuse to render their services in criminal matters as is the case presently.

She asked the administration to intervene in obtaining permission to relax the minimum requirements in the permanent appointment of interpreters; the advertisement of all vacant positions for interpreters against the relaxed minimum requirements as a priority; favourable consideration of providing occasional interpreters with contracts pending the appointment of permanent staff, and taking the current experienced occasional interpreters who do not necessarily meet the minimum requirements into consideration for purpose of shortlisting and possible appointment in permanent positions.

Roland Routh
2019-10-03 07:35:44 | 9 months ago

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