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Mandela memorial translator says he saw 'angels'

Published:Thursday | December 12, 2013 | 10:50 AM


Thamsanqa Jantjie the man who is accused of faking sign interpretation at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said that he saw "angels" at the event.

Reports are that Jantjie has been violent in the past and suffers from schizophrenia.

Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were "armed policemen around me." He added that he was once hospitalised in a mental health facility for more than one year.

Jantjie, who stood gesticulating one meter from Obama and others who spoke at Tuesday's ceremony that was broadcast around the world, insisted that he was doing proper sign-language interpretation of the speeches of world leaders.

However, he also apologised for his performance that has been dismissed by many sign-language experts as gibberish.

The statements by Jantjie raise serious security issues for Obama, other heads of state and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who made speeches at FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg's black township.

The ceremony honored Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon and former president who died on December 5.


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