Questions surround sign language interpreter at Mandela memorial - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Questions surround sign language interpreter at Mandela memorial


JOHANNESBURG (WKOW) -- A South African deputy Cabinet minister says "a mistake happened" in the hiring of a sign language interpreter for the Nelson Mandela memorial service who experts say was signing gibberish on stage next to world leaders.

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said Thursday that government officials have tried to track down the company that provided Thamsanqa Jantjie, but that the owners "have vanished into thin air."

Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Bogopane-Zulu, apologized to deaf people offended around the world by what they say was Jantjie's incomprehensible signing.

Jantjie says he was qualified, but was experiencing a schizophrenic episode. He talked about his performance on Thursday.

"I think I've been a champion of sign language. You know I've interpreted at many big events- not only at the event that is in question now. If you remember I interpreted at Ma Sisulu's funeral, many press conferences including the presidential conference and there was no one at all who ever said I interpreted wrong," said Jantjie.

An investigation is under way to determine how Jantjie received a security clearance.

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