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Interpreter for the deaf at Mandela memorial did 'baseball sign' movements

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Was the interpreter for the deaf at Mandela’s memorial saying anything at all with those hand movements or was he just moving the air around? It sounds like he was doing nothing more than some elaborate waving on stage as deaf actress Marlee Matlin said, he looked like he was “doing baseball signs,” according to CNN on Dec. 12. Today the man is being called a "fake."

It is not clear who made the decision to hire Thamsanqa Jantjie, who stands by his interpreting work at the Mandela memorial, but most folks from the deaf community didn’t understand what this guy was saying in sign language. Defending his work, this man now being called a “fake” across the globe, stands by his abilities as an interrupter.

This wasn’t his first rodeo, so to speak, Jantjie interpreted proceedings at the ruling African National Congress elective conference and there were complaints about his lack of communicating with sign language. After millions all over the world saw this man stand next to world dignitaries, this has to be embarrassing for the country.

Jantjie did say if he offended anyone in the deaf community he apologizes. He did offend many who tuned in to watch the memorial but couldn’t understand what was being said due to the lack of skills this man had.

He said “I have never in my life had anything that said that I interpreted wrong.” He continued with an apology:

"For the deaf association, if they think that I have done a wrong interpretation, I ask forgiveness. For Deaf SA, if they are telling me that I was doing a wrong interpretation, then they should answer me why they were silent all the time, all these years."

Then came the confession from this “fake” interpreter saying that he was hallucinating while on stage at the Mandela memorial and that he suffers from schizophrenia. The one thing that Jantjie refused to divulge was the details of his hire.

He wouldn’t say how he got hired for this very prestigious job and he wouldn’t say who hired him. The investigation is on-going today by the government. The government is calling this a mistake today.


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