The fake sign language interpreter at the Nelson Mandela memorial reportedly has been charged with numerous crimes, including murder.
Thamsanqa Jantjie claimed to have suffered a schizophrenic attack that affected his performance during the memorial. The world’s deaf community has pronounced him a fraud, however, and that his signing was gibberish.
While the memorial was underway, a deaf member of the South African parliament even tweeted that he “cannot sign at all, he’s making up signs. Please get him off.”
While there is controversy of his alleged sign language skills, according to South African news agency eNCA, Jantjie, 34, has had numerous run-ins with the law over the years. For one thing, he was reportedly accused of murder in 2003, but there is apparently no record of how the case was resolved. Other criminal charges emerged as well:
“eNCA’s investigations have found that Thamsanqa Jantjie, who is being treated for schizophrenia, has also faced rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges. Many of the charges brought against him were dropped, allegedly because he was mentally unfit to stand trial.”
Jantije was standing within a few feet of many world leaders including Barack Obama during Tuesday’s memorial service for the former South African president, calling security preparations for the event into question.
The South African government said today amid the revelations about Jantjie’s background that it is investigating as to how he was selected to be the sign language interpreter in the first place. The US Secret Service said today that “it had an understanding that the South African government was responsible for vetting the people on the stage for the ceremony and that agreed-upon security measures were in place.”
Although the African National Congress has disavowed the man, Jantjie apparently has worked at least two previous ANC events, standing next to President Jacob Zuma.