The sign-language interpreter who was on stage at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service was a fake, according to an ABC News report on Wednesday. Advocates for deaf persons are saying that the man who was waving his arms around wasn’t communicating anything of meaning.
Following the realization that the sign-language interpreter was a fake, questions are naturally being raised as to how the man managed to be there among all the heads of state who were present at the global event, including President Barack Obama.
Bruno Druchen, the deaf federation’s national director, said that the alleged interpreter was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for. For example, when Cyril Rampaphosa, the South African Deputy President, told the audience that former South African President F.W. de Klerk was among the guests in a VIP section, the alleged interpreter along side of him made a pushing motion which does not translate to persons who know sign language. The alleged interpreter did not identify de Klerk or say anything about him being in the stadium. It is also said that the man used no facial expressions to show the emotions of the speakers – which is reportedly necessary for sing language interpreters.
As the man stood about a yard from the world’s top leaders and pretended to be sign-language interpreting for the deaf in order to give them the messages of speakers, the security at the event is being question. Besides this incident of bad organization, as the media is calling it, there were other problems including a faulty audio system which made the words of the speakers from across the globe inaudible for many who were present.
Additionally, it was reported that there was a huge problem with public transportation that kept many mourners from getting to the soccer stadium for the memorial. It was reported that the first large group of persons - who rushed into the stadium when the gates opened early in the morning - were not searched by the police.
South Africa officials are investigating the alleged incorrect use of sign language at the National Memorial Service, according to one of South Africa’s two presidency ministers, Collins Chabane. However, he says, the investigation is not completed because the government is overwhelmed with the current public viewing of Mandela’s body in Pretoria – South Africa’s capital.
According to Chabane, who did not identify the alleged sign language interpreter, said the government will report publicly on any information it may establish regarding the incident.
The report also says that inferior sign language interpreters are problematic in South Africa because some people only know about 10 different signs and pass themselves off as interpreters – and those hiring the interpreters don’t know sign language themselves. It has been said that such “interpreters” take advantage of the deaf community to make money.
White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said that he isn’t aware of any security breaches associated with the fake interpreter.