Schizophrenic Sign Language Interpreter At Mandela Ceremony Admits He Was Hearing Voices And Hallucinating


December 12, 2013 11:55am PST

Many deaf and hearing impaired people expressed frustration after missing out on the celebration of Mandela’s life.  They claim that the man who was interpreting the speaker’s words via sign language, wasn’t really signing, but making up hand gestures for the whole ceremony.  After speaking with reporters, the interpreter claims that he suffers from schizophrenia and was hallucinating and hearing voices at the time.

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Thamsanqa Jantjie, the sign language interpreter for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, is in a bit of hot water as he has caused anger after making a mockery of the event.  A South African deputy Cabinet minister says “a mistake happened,” as they cannot seem to locate the company that referred Jantijie, saying that it, “vanished into thin air.”


The man that stood a mere 3 freed from world leaders, including President Obama, claims that his schizophrenia has resulted in violent behavior and was even the cause of his hospitalization for a year. After being asked about the frequency of his episodes, he infers that it happens often, but does not offer any details regarding past incidents.

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As he explained in a 45 minute phone interview with The Associated Press, that he fell victim to his mental illness during the event. He said that he had to remain calm as, “I was in a very difficult position. And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I’ll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn’t embarrass my country.”


Jantijie explains, “What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium … I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don’t know the attack of this problem, how will it come. Sometimes I get violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things chasing me.”

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The fact that the man was able to slip through security so easily has security officials concerned. However, there is in investigation underway in effort to determine how Jantijie was allowed his security clearance.


The Blaze shares that, “Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Bogopane-Zulu apologized to deaf people offended around the world by what they say was Jantjie’s incomprehensible signing.”


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