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Fake Mandela Funeral Interpreter Not Terrorist, Just Psychotic

Mandela Interpreter

A man claiming to be the fake sign language interpreter who appeared on stage just feet away from world leaders ranging for the President of South Africa to the President of the United States talked to a South African newspaper and said he was having a psychotic episode during the event:

Johannesburg – The man who has been blasted on social networks and accused of providing “fake” sign language interpretation at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service says he suffered a schizophrenic episode.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said his schizophrenia, for which he takes medication, has not only left many people angry and accusing him of being an impostor, but it was also the reason he was medically boarded a few years ago, resulting in him having to rely on a social grant now.

He doesn’t know whether it was the magnitude of what he was doing or the happiness he felt throughout the day that might have triggered the attack while on stage.

Suddenly he lost concentration, and started hearing voices and hallucinating.

Afterwards, it all went downhill and he just signed things that didn’t make sense.

“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.”

Jantjie said that although he was having an episode and continued seeing things and hearing loud voices in his head, things that impaired his ability to hear well and interpret what was being said, he couldn’t leave, so he stayed on and continued to sign things that didn’t make sense.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the company that purportedly provided this man’s services has disappeared:

The owners of the firm which supplied a “fake” sign language interpreter to the Mandela memorial event have vanished, a South African minister has said.

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu apologised to the deaf community for the poor quality of interpretation given by Thamsanqa Dyantyi from SA Interpreters.

“He is Xhosa speaking. The English was a bit too much for him,” she said.

Mr Dyantyi himself has blamed his flawed interpretation on aschizophrenic episode.

He also admitted he has been violent in the past.

As amusing as all of this is, and it does have its amusing side, there’s a serious security issue underlying all of this. A schizophrenic guy just feet away from several world leaders who admits to a history of violence? Yea, that makes sense.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. John Peabody says:

    There are many cultural differences going on here. Perhaps “schizophrenic episodes” are the South African equivalent of “leaving office to spend time with my family”. Give it a few days- the real story will come out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. James Pearce says:

    A schizophrenic guy just feet away from several world leaders who admits to a history of violence? Yea, that makes sense.

    Oh, it’s stupid, I agree.

    But I also think that the potential dangers have been a bit overstated. A schizophrenic guy with a history of violence sat just feet away from several world leaders….and all he did was fake a sign language interpretation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. KM says:

    I find it interesting that people seem to be taking the whole schizophrenia thing at face value.

    he couldn’t leave, so he stayed on and continued to sign things that didn’t make sense.

    Bullshit. I sign (ASL) and what he did was gibberish. The thing is, when schizophrenics talk, it’s still words. They say things like “The dog talks Jesus TV in moonlight” or random words strung out but they are still actual words. It’s called word salad. Gibberish in this context is nonsensical communication, not randomly generated sounds. You can understand a schizophrenic, you just can’t comprehend them. Even their random “noises” are recognizable vowels and consonants.

    What he did? He just moved, slowly and badly at that. There was nothing even remotely linguistically sound in that mess. He wasn’t signing random words or concepts. He wasn’t following along with anything in his head. He couldn’t even be bothered to make the facial expressions that go with it, something a real speaker would do automatically. He was making shit up. Period. He’s a liar trying to get out of some very hot water.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  4. John Peabody says:

    Agree with KM. Someone who really, really overshot the mark.

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  5. Liberal Capitalist says:

    ” He was making shit up. Period. He’s a liar trying to get out of some very hot water. ”

    OK. So… South Africa’s version of Sarah Palin.

    Got it. Thanks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  6. Tyrell says:

    It is obvious this man was a fraud who managed to weave his way in to get some sort of fame or notoriety.
    The whole thing was not done well. Too much attention was given to President Obama. The networks turned this into some sort of “honorium” for the president. I am not blaming any of this on him. The major speaking role should have been given to a pastor or current leader of South Africa.
    This will now be remembered as the event that had a fake sign language person and the president carrying on with some other woman. Sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  7. JohnMcC says:

    @Tyrell: You might try actually looking up difficult words before you use them, my poor little Tyrell. “Honorium” is not actually a word and if you meant to use “honorarium”, it does not mean what you think it does.

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