Interpreter hogged the limelight at Mandela memorial

12 Dec 2013 18:50pm
WINDHOEK/CAPE TOWN, 12 DEC (NAMPA) –The Sign Language interpreter used during the memorial service of former South African president Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, was not professional and just wanted to be on stage with world leaders.
Head of Department of the Centre of Communication and Deaf Studies in Namibia, Lizette Beukes told Nampa on enquiry Thursday she believes that Thamsanqa Jantjie's interpretation was a mockery to the deaf society at large.
She noted that sign language is a language on its own with its own grammar.
Jantjie, was metres away from the likes of Namibian president Hifikepunye Pohamba, South African president Jacob Zuma, US president Barack Obama, Cuban president Raul Castro, and Graca Machel, the widow of Mandela during proceedings at Mandela's memorial at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
Deaf viewers complained that they could not follow what was being said on stage because the man interpreting proceedings for them via sign language was 'signing rubbish'.
Jantjie was quoted as saying that he suffered a schizophrenic episode during the memorial.
A South African Press Agency (SAPA) report issued on Thursday cited Jantjie as telling the Cape Times newspaper that he did not know whether it was the importance of the event or the happiness he felt during the day which triggered the attack.
During proceedings Jantjie, who uses medication for schizophrenia, claim to have lost concentration and began hallucinating.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterised by a breakdown of thought processes and by impaired and emotional responses. Common symptoms are delusions including paranoia and auditory hallucinations, disorganised thinking in speech, and a lack of emotional intelligence.
He later apologised for his actions, stating he 'was alone in a dangerous situation' and there was nothing he could do.
But Jantjie earlier told Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg that he is a fully qualified interpreter and has been trusted in the past with big events.
“I've interpreted in many press conferences, including the presidential conference, and there was no one at all that said I interpreted wrong,” he was quoted as saying.
However, South Africa Translators' Institution chairman, Johan Blaauw, told SAPA that they have already complained about his interpreting skills after the ANC conference this year.
A spokesman for the ANC said Jantjie was hired by the South African Government and not the ANC for the Mandela memorial service.
The South African Government is investigating the matter.