December 14, 2013 5:00 am -

Thamsanqa-Jantjie_2763290kIn a major development that should surprise, well, nobody:

A South African deputy minister said Thursday that the man who turned out to be faking sign language as an interpreter for the deaf during Tuesday’s memorial event for Nelson Mandela did not speak English very well and worked for a company that has “vanished into thin air.”

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, deputy minister of women, children and people with disabilities said at a news conference at the state-owned South African Broadcasting Co.: “I don’t think he comes from the streets. He comes from a school for the deaf.”

The interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, who stood on stage beside the world’s most powerful leaders, including President Obama, earlier told the Johannesburg Star that he was schizophrenic and hearing voices but said he had no choice but to remain on stage and motion with his arms. …

[Jantjie] said that he works for a company called SA Interpreters and that they told him on Monday that he would interpret at the memorial service. “Life is unfair. This illness is unfair. Anyone who doesn’t understand this illness will think that I’m just making this up,” Jantjie told the Star. …

According to the Associated Press, Collins Chabane, one of South Africa’s two presidency ministers, said the government was investigating and “will report publicly on any information it may establish.”

The agency also reported that an address and phone number that Jantjie provided for his company in an interview turned out to be false.

D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.