‘Fake’ Interpreter at Mandela’s Memorial Says He Was ‘Hallucinating’

At the Dec. 10 memorial service for Nelson Mandela, sign language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie stood behind important world leaders for four hours and emphatically moved his hands, presumably translating their speeches for deaf people watching around the world. But, as it turned out, his hand signals meant nothing. The Deaf Federation of South Africa called him a fake, and the ensuing outrage brought out more questions about his credentials and how he got hired for the event in the first place.

Jantjie has stood by his interpretation skills. “My portfolio shows that I have been a champion of what I have been doing,” he told CNN. However, he does admit to having some difficulties at the event, and this is where it gets really interesting. In an interview with The Associated Press, Jantjie said he has schizophrenia, and during the event, he started hallucinating that there were angels entering the stadium. He admitted that previous attacks of schizophrenia have made him violent. Now, the company responsible for contracting the interpreter has reportedly disappeared …

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