Mandela Ceremony Interpreter 'Faking' Sign language Entire Time

By: 23 Newsroom
By: 23 Newsroom

JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service was faking sign interpretations the entire time while world leaders were giving their speeches.

Numerous sign-language experts say Thamsanqa Jantjie (tam-SAHNG'-kah shawn-TEE'-leh) had been merely signing gibberish.

Jantjie told The Associated Press that he has schizophrenia, and at the time of the service he was having hallucinations of angels coming into the stadium and was trying not to panic because there were "armed policemen around. He also said he has a history of violence. He has since apologized for his performance.

A South African deputy Cabinet minister says "a mistake happened" in the hiring of a sign language interpreter.

Government officials have tried to track down the company that provided the man but the owners "have vanished into thin air."

Officials say an investigation is under way to determine how Jantjie received a security clearance

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