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Mandela memorial 'fake' sign language interpreter defends himself

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Mandela memorial 'fake' sign language interpreter defends himself


A South African sign language interpreter accused of gesturing gibberish during the Nelson Mandela memorial on Tuesday has spoken out.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said he suffers from schizophrenia which affected him during the service.

The 34-year-old told Johannesburg’s Star newspaper he started hearing voices and hallucinating while on stage.

Jantjie explained how the condition has affected him: “I see angels come to the stadium. Sometimes I will react violently on that place. Sometimes I will see things chasing me. You know, I was in a very very difficult position,” he said.

“Please forgive me, but what I was doing, I was doing what I believe is my calling, I was doing what I believe makes a difference to the country,” Jantjie continued.

After the memorial, South Africa’s leading deaf association denounced Jantjie as a “fake.”

The government has admitted he was not a professional interpreter.

This, along with his admissions of past violence and his state of mental health at the memorial service, has promoted awkward questions about security.

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