The Fake Signer at Mandela’s Memorial Was Hallucinating

Thamsanqa Jantjie (I have no clue how to pronounce that) is the fake signer that worked Nelson Mandela’s memorial service and who’s been criticized for not knowing what the hell he was doing. His form of sign language made no sense whatsoever and everyone was dumbfounded as to how he even landed a job at the event.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Jantjie explains the reason why his sign language looked like random flailing was because it pretty much was. He says he was distracted by angels coming into the stadium. He goes on to explain he regularly hallucinates and at times reacts violently. Somehow, I don’t think this is making anyone feel better.

I would like to tell everybody that if I’ve offended anyone, please, forgive me,” Jantjie said in his tidy cement house outfitted with a big-screen TV and with two late-model cars in the carport on the outskirts of Soweto. “But what I was doing, I was doing what I believe is my calling. I was doing what I believe makes a difference.”

“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 comes. Sometimes I react violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me,” Jantjie said.

He said the only thing that kept him from panicking was that he didn’t want to embarrass his country.

“I was in a very difficult position,” he added. “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.”

The AP asked how often he becomes violent to which he responded, “a lot.”

According to Jantjie, he was due that day to get a regular six-month mental health checkup to determine if he his medication was working. He’s been in mental institutions several times, his longest being in 2006 when he stayed there for one year and seven months.

As far as credentials go, he received one year of sign language interpretation training at a school in Cape Town.

An investigation into SA Interpreters, the company that employed him, has yielded few results. The address they had lead to an entirely different company. The number they had for the company produced one woman who confirmed that she worked there but declined to comment and hung up.

In essence, it sounded like a couple of guys were trying to get the cheapest interpreter they could find and just went, “You, yea, you. Random guy. You’re hired.” Note that he only made $77 a day while the going rate for signers is $164 an hour which includes a shift change every 20 minutes so they can maintain focus. Jantjie worked the entire event straight through.

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99point9 percenter
99point9 percenter
10 years ago

…started hearing voices and hallucinating while on stage. It was because
of those hallucinations, he said, that he made the nonsense gestures.Well that explains his nonsense gestures and comments for the last two years. Oh, wait, I see you’re referring to Jantjie, not Obama. Nevermind.