Thamsanqa Jantjie, the South African sign language interpreter who allegedly threw fake signs at viewers during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday has stepped forward to explain his highly-criticized performance, according to USA Today on Thursday.
Jantjie says he suffered a schizophrenic episode. During the episode on stage, he says he was hallucinating and hearing voices. He gave the explanation after being called a fake and an imposter by experts in the field of sign language across the globe.
Jantjie says there was nothing he could do. He said he was alone in a very dangerous situation, trying to control himself without showing the world what was going on. He concluded by saying that he was very sorry, but it’s the situation he found himself in. He claims he saw visions of angels while he was standing on stage at the memorial service.
Hendrieta Bogopane-Zulu, a South African cabinet minister, said it was a mistake in hiring Jantjie, and apologized to South Africa’s deaf community during a press conference. In defense of the controversy, Bogopane-Zulu said that Jantijie was not just picked up on the street. She said that he went to a school for the deaf.
Jantjie asserts that he was paid R850 – approximately $85 – for his part in the ceremony, and he was reportedly hired just the day before the event.