Man Who Interpreted At Mandela Memorial With Fake Sign Language Says He Was Hearing Voices In His Head

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The organizers of the Mandela Memorial had come under serious stick after it was discovered that the person interpreting into sign language for deaf people was making things up.

The interpreter, identified as Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, said he started hearing voices in his head and hallucinating, resulting in gestures which made no sense during the memorial, which was watched by millions of TV viewers across the globe.

Mr Jantjie has apologised for the incident and said he did not know what triggered the attack, saying he took medication for his schizophrenia.

He told Johannesburg’s Star newspaper: ‘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.’

Viewers saw Mr Jantjie interpreting on Tuesday at the Mandela memorial attended by leaders from around the world, but South Africa’s leading deaf association yesterday claimed he was a fake and said he was inventing signs.



Quo non Ascendam. Writer. E-mail:


  1. I swear to God my belle Don tear for laugh. so in essence Wetin the man dey try talk Na say them dey follow am from village. u go fear hearing of voices. No be only schizophrenia

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