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Howeffer: The magistrate strikes back!

Anyone who has ever been privileged to witness an Afrikaans magistrate giving his judgement or, more importantly here, his sentence, in English will know why I consider this the eighth wonder of the world.

You can forget about Jackie Mason, Billy Connelly and Barry Hilton; just pop along to any magistrate’s court near you.

Just to place this in context and banish any claims of negativity towards Afrikaners, my blog Tripartite has much of its humour in Afrikaans. The language is funnier than anything the Souties can come up with.

To his worships: let not your wrath overtake your sense of humour. In this time of anger where magistrates have lost their lives, perhaps seeing the humorous side of things will create a better spirit among participants.

Traps at the magistrate’s court
During the course of a trial where there are a number of accused, the chances are that most of the evidence from the witness box will need an interpreter. In reality a witness will be asked a question, the interpreter will translate it to him and then, upon him answering, interpret the answer to the court.

I’m usually able to follow all of it without listening to the interpreter until the magistrate reads out his sentence. Then my colleagues and I are frantically trying to find the interpreter.

Herewith “a transcript” of such a sentence — the attorneys’ comments are those in brackets; for this one there are four attorneys envisaged:

Judgement of his worship (whose first language are Afrikaans)
“It are vital when considering the effidence before me to take into consideration that craaime are preffalent … because why? Because why the peoples demand it!

(Attorneys whispering to each other: Anyone? He’s got me … something about craaime …)

Howeffer, the law demands that we consider the craaime, the crimineel and the interests of suciety en nogal blend in wif a element of mercy. Efen where dis are a affront to decent law-abirring cirrizens!

(Anyone? … Not sure, is your client’s first name Efen?)

Nou toe maar, you have been charged an’ foun’ guilly of shoplifting arra mall near to dis very court … an’ shoplif’in’ are a very serious o-fence an’ are becoming preffalent because why …
because why the penal’ies wif which o-fenders are given are far too len’int!

(Anything? … Not yet … nope … it’s definitely something to do with shoplifting.)

Peoples today frink that they can jus’ waltz into a store in a blue pant wif open necked trousers and vat maar wat hulle wil, well I are got news for you!

(No? No … no … not yet.)

Accordin’-lee I sennence all of you to two years’ direct imprisonment wif-out the option of a fine and hope you learns that craaime are not paying an’ that suciety can deal wif de laaikes of you.

(Why has he stopped speaking? Dunno … did he sentence them? I’m not saying anything. What if he’s just waiting for one of us to speak and hits us with contempt?)

* Please note that those magistrates who are interested may contact me. I’m planning to charge an admission fee.


  • Mike Trapido is a criminal attorney and publicist having also worked as an editor and journalist. He was born in Johannesburg and attended HA Jack and Highlands North High Schools. He married Robyn in 1984 (Mrs Traps, aka "the government") and has three sons (who all look suspiciously like her ex-boss). He was a counsellor on the JCCI for a year around 1992. His passions include Derby County, Blue Bulls, Orlando Pirates, Proteas and Springboks. He takes Valium in order to cope with Bafana Bafana's results. Practice Michael Trapido Attorney (civil and criminal) 011 022 7332 Facebook