Among the many stories to have emerged from the official memorial service for Nelson Mandela, perhaps the most shocking has been the revelation that the sign language interpreter at the event is a fake.
His actions have sparked outcries from the global deaf community, with the Deaf Federation of South Africa saying that he was “literally flapping his arms around”. He has even inspired a parody Twitter account, which has amassed a fairly decent following by posting strings of incoherent jibber jabber.
Among the defences offered by the man, who goes by the name Thamsanqa Jantjie is that he was having a schizophrenic episode at the time and started hearing voices in his head and hallucinating.
“There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry. It’s the situation I found myself in,” he told South African newspaper The Star.
That also doesn’t explain this incident in 2012, which some commenters say is just as incoherent:
Indeed in an interview with Johannesburg-based radio station Highveld 94.7, Jantjie makes no mention of the mental condition. Instead, he defended the signs he made on stage, claiming to have been hired by a company called SA Interpreters. Mememburn has been unable to find any evidence of this organisation’s existence.
“If I was not doing the right job, the person that was supposed to do the right job… where was that person and when did they not send that person?”, Jantie asks in the interview.
Where was the right person indeed?