News / Africa

Fake Mandela Signer Blames Schizophrenia

India's President Pranab Mukherjee speaks at the podium as the fake sign language interpreter (R) punches the air beside him during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
India's President Pranab Mukherjee speaks at the podium as the fake sign language interpreter (R) punches the air beside him during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela, in Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
VOA News
The sign language interpreter criticized by organizations for the deaf as giving "meaningless" signs during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela has blamed a schizophrenic episode for his performance.

Thamsanqa Jantjie told a Johannesburg newspaper, The Star, that he heard voices and hallucinated during Tuesday's service, which affected his ability to interpret the speeches by leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama.

Thamsanqa Jantjie gestures at his home during an interview with AP in Johannesburg, Dec. 12, 2013.Thamsanqa Jantjie gestures at his home during an interview with AP in Johannesburg, Dec. 12, 2013.
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Thamsanqa Jantjie gestures at his home during an interview with AP in Johannesburg, Dec. 12, 2013.
Thamsanqa Jantjie gestures at his home during an interview with AP in Johannesburg, Dec. 12, 2013.
He said he was sorry, and that there was nothing he could do.  He also told South Africa's Radio 702 on Thursday that he was happy with his work.

"Absolutely, what I've been doing, I think that I've been a champion of sign language as I've been saying that.  You know, I've interpreted many big events, not only the event in question now," he said.

South Africa's Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said that the interpreter became overwhelmed and did not use normal signs.

She said Thursday there was a "clear indication" that the company that hired him has for years provided substandard services.

She also apologized to the deaf community, and said the issue highlights the challenges that deaf people around the world face every day in trying to communicate.

The head of the Deaf Federation of South Africa, Bruno Druchen, said the man's gestures were "self-invented signs" not used in South African sign language, and called the incident a "mockery of the language."

A joint statement from the World Federation of the Deaf and the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters also said the interpreter's actions showed he did not know the language.  They stressed the need for the organizers of public events to ensure that the deaf are able to access information through trained, qualified interpreters.

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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Nicholas Akuamoah-Boateng from: Kumasi-Ghana
December 13, 2013 2:36 AM
It is sad ! Why should authourithy treat our physical challenge fellows like that? God have mercy!

by: Benjamin Likute Bauma from: South Africa
December 12, 2013 1:15 PM
Under former President Thambo Mbeki the ANC members blamed him for being too intellectual and not at the level of common people. Under Zuma we are experiencing under-qualify people. Where are we going?
In Response

by: Nicholas Akuamoah-Boateng from: Kumasi-Ghana
December 13, 2013 2:43 AM
Where are we going indeed! You see, some of our leaders are taking so many things for granted.

by: Felix from: Lusaka Zamia
December 12, 2013 12:31 PM
Common symptoms of Schizophrenia are delusions including paranoia and auditory hallucinations, disorganized thinking reflected in speech, and a lack of emotional intelligence. It is accompanied by significant social or vocational dysfunction. The onset of symptoms typically occurs in young adulthood, with a global lifetime prevalence of about 0.3–0.7%.[2] Diagnosis is based on observed behavior and the patient's reported experiences.

by: yettah from: usa
December 12, 2013 12:21 PM
Can anyone say "paid shill"? The next question becomes this: what high ranking deaf official of what country was targeted to be rattled by this episode?

by: Abel Ogah from: Oju benue state Nigeria
December 12, 2013 11:06 AM
Alas! He got paid for the job. Men needed to survive.Fake men abound, loopholes abound even at that level. This is the end time!

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