Mandela Memorial Signer Allegedly Burned Two Men to Death

The bogus signer's background becomes stranger and stranger

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Evan Vucci / AP

Thamsanqa Jantjie, right, interprets in sign language for President Barack Obama during his remarks at a memorial service at FNB Stadium in honor of Nelson Mandela in Soweto, near Johannesburg.

The fake sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service last week was among a group of people accused of assaulting two men found with a stolen television and burning them to death, according to his friends. The interpreter, who sparked outrage when it was revealed that he was using fake sign language during the event, joined others in allegedly setting fire to tires and placing them around the two men’s necks, one of the interpreter’s cousins and three of his friends told the Associated Press.

Thamsanqa Jantijie was never tried for the 2003 killings because authorities determined he was not mentally fit to stand trial, the sources, quoted anonymously, told the AP. Their account of the murders matched a description of the crime Jantijie himself gave during an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper of Johannesburg. Jantijie was institutionalized for over than a year in lieu of standing trial.

Jantijie said last week that he has schizophrenia and experiences hallucinations. He claimed to see angels while making nonsensical gestures during last Tuesday’s ceremony. South African officials are investigating who hired Jantjie as the onstage interpreter at the Mandela memorial, and how he received security clearance. Jantjie said he was hired by an interpretation company for which he had freelanced for years. But government officials say the owner of that company has disappeared.

[AP]

15 comments
makeup
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Johannesburg (AFP) - An allegedly bogus sign language interpreter hired for a Nelson Mandela memorial service addressed by the likes of Barack Obama, on Monday dismissed media claims he had faced murder charges in the past.

The signer, Thamsanqa Jantjie, had stood just feet from the United States president and other world leaders on the stage at last Tuesday's event at Soweto's World Cup stadium.

Enraged sign language experts said the signing by Jantjie, who claims to be schizophrenic, amounted to little more than "flapping his arms around".

Raising further security questions, the Sunday Times newspaper reported that Jantjie had admitted being part of a mob that burnt two people to death in 2003.

"It was a community thing -- what you call mob justice -- and I was also there," Jantjie was quoted as telling the paper, which said charges against him were dropped on grounds that he was mentally unfit to stand trial.

Contacted by AFP on Monday, Jantjie dismissed the report as "nonsense".

"I don't know that. Sunday Times is talking nonsense" he said, but refused to elaborate makeup brushes online.

Jantjie directed AFP to the national prosecuting authority to verify if he had any criminal record.

But the prosecution agency has already declined to "confirm or deny" the allegations, and said it does not keep records of closed cases.

The government has said it was probing whether a security lapse had occurred in hiring Jantjie, as claims emerged of a string of criminal violence charges.

The private TV channel eNCA reported Friday that the signer had also faced rape, kidnapping and theft charges.

The African National Congress (ANC), South Africa's ruling party, said it was probing claims that some of its members were directors of the company for which the signer worked.

The Sunday Times said the head of the ANC's religious affairs department owns the company, South African Interpreters Fashion Down Jacket.

"We shall also seek to uncover the veracity of these allegations," the party said in a statement on Monday, vowing to "act decisively where any wrong doing against anyone in the employ of the ANC is proven".

Last week, the government formally apologised for any offence caused, and admitted a "mistake" had been made.

It claimed the company that Jantjie worked for had "vanished into thin air".

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CyrusManz
CyrusManz

Having this guy allowed to come within inches of the president and other world leaders for such extended periods, while he was doing his stand up comedy act, is a clear indication of security detail failure.

I would hate to be a member of Obama's detail these days....or maybe he's good with it....who knows...

AlanHall
AlanHall

He's not just a fraud. He's a terrible cook, too..

Abegena
Abegena

what a crazy world. i cant believe Time Megazine chosed Syrian Pres. as Man of the yaear

anticleon
anticleon

That's the trend of the world today. Criminal gets the stage. Look at Syria. The terrorists are the ones helped by the west. Look at Sri Lanka. The west is trying to take revenge from the gov. for killing terrorists there. If you want the stage you have to commit crimes.

Fitzwilliams
Fitzwilliams

This person, I think, is just looking for attention. Who really hires someone who is schizophrenic and hallucinating to be the interpreter for the President of the USA? Really, I think this guy is just trying to get a rise out of people and get the attention spotlight.

DeanJackson
DeanJackson

For those ignorant, anyone standing in close proximity to the president minus SSA security around the president, is to be screened by SSA before that person is allowed near the president, otherwise the president won't speak, and the Secret Service will see to it that the president won't give a speech if a lunatic is to be standing next to the president.


So the question is, why did the Secret Service stand down on this particular lunatic?



Openminded1
Openminded1

This guy is a joke, a liar and a criminal, he was perfect as obama's interpreter . The south africans did a good job on security and background checks on this guy. I wonder who he is related too.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@Fitzwilliams Dummy he was not hired by Obama's people he was hired by south African authority . he claims schizophrenic issues as an excuse, for really not knowing sign language. he is just a nut who wanted to be close to the history of the event. It was a major security breach by all . He was not just the interpreter for Obama, he did for every speaker that day.

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@Fitzwilliams

"Who really hires someone who is schizophrenic and hallucinating to be the interpreter for the President of the USA?"

are you illiterate? no one hired him, he wasn't supposed to be there, he snuck past security. of course no one would hire a schizophrenic who doesn't know sign language to be the signer for the president. seriously? smh 


Openminded1
Openminded1

@DeanJackson Because they took the word of the South africans who vouched for his alleged ability to speak sign language . The SS screwed up. but mainly the SA screwed up  with their choice. Major cluster fu-k

riclively
riclively

@Openminded1 You think this guy would be standing 2 feet from the president without knowing who he is People better wake up they are laughing at our stupidity and ignorance.

Fitzwilliams
Fitzwilliams

@#libtardedamerica@FitzwilliamsIt is recorded that he was paid $83 to interpret the language.

Interpreter for Mandela event: I Was Hallucinating (Time Article)


Still, who just goes around and fake sign languages for worldwide events like this?

Openminded1
Openminded1

@riclively @Openminded1 The south africans put him in place and our secret service did not not check him out further, they took the south africans word that this moron was ok. It was not only Obama they had to think about there where other world leaders there too.