The company which supplied a “fake” sign language interpreter to the Mandela memorial service has vanished, a South African minister has said.
Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu apologized to the deaf community for the poor quality of interpretation given by Thamsanqa Jantjie from SA Interpreters.
“He is Xhosa speaking. The English was a bit too much for him,” she said.
Thamsanqa Jantjie himself has blamed his flawed interpretation on a schizophrenic episode.
He also admitted he has been violent in the past.
During the memorial, Thamsanqa Jantjie was employed to stand on the stage next to key speakers such as President Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren, translating their eulogies.
But the minister denied there was a security issue, saying the interpreter had been properly accredited.
Nelson Mandela died last week at the age of 95, and will be buried on Sunday, December 15.
Ever since Tuesday’s event, pressure has been mounting on the government to explain why Thamsanqa Jantjie was hired for such an important event.
During a press conference, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the deputy minister for women, children and people with disabilities, admitted that a mistake had been made but said there was no reason for the country to be embarrassed.
“There are as many as a hundred sign language dialects,” Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said, to explain the difficulties he faced.
“He started well and later he became tired. Guidelines say we must switch interpreters every 20 minutes.”
Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu did not rule out employing him in some circumstances again.
But she accused Thamsanqa Jantjie’s employers, SA Interpreters, of being cheats, and said the company’s directors had now vanished into thin air.
His performance was watched on television by millions of people worldwide.
Thamsanqa Jantjie said that during the event, he had lost concentration because of voices in his head.
He had started hallucinating, and saw angels coming into the stadium.
Thamsanqa Jantjie also indicated that his past behavior had sometimes been unpredictable, telling the Associated Press news agency that “sometimes I will react violent on this place, sometimes I will see things chasing me”.
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