Interpreter at Mandela event: I was hallucinating - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Interpreter at Mandela event: I was hallucinating

Posted: Updated:

By ALAN CLENDENNING and JUERGEN BAETZ
The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) - The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were "armed policemen around me." He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year.

A South African deputy Cabinet minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, later held a news conference to announce that "a mistake happened" in the hiring of Jantjie.

Government officials have tried to track down the company that provided Thamsanqa Jantjie but the owners "have vanished into thin air," said Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu.

She apologized to deaf people offended around the world for Jantjie's incomprehensible signing, and said an investigation is under way to determine how Jantjie was hired and what vetting process, if any, he underwent for his security clearance.

The deputy minister said the translation company offered sub-standard services, the rate they paid the translator was far below the normal levels and that in order to maintain the interpreter's concentration level, interpreters must be switched every 20 minutes. Jantjie was on the stage for the entire service that lasted more than three hours.

She declined to say who in South Africa's government was responsible for contracting the company that provided the translator, or how those rules could be flouted.

"It's an interdepartmental responsibility," she said. "We are trying to establish what happened."

Jantjie, who stood gesticulating three-feet (1 meter) from Obama and others who spoke at Tuesday's ceremony that was broadcast around the world, insisted in the AP interview that he was doing proper sign-language interpretation of the speeches of world leaders.

But he also apologized for his performance that has been dismissed by many sign-language experts as gibberish.

"I would like to tell everybody that if I've offended anyone, please, forgive me," Jantjie said. "But what I was doing, I was doing what I believe is my calling, I was doing what I believe makes a difference."

The statements by Jantjie raise serious security issues for Obama, other heads of state and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who made speeches at FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg's black township. The ceremony honored Mandela, the anti-apartheid icon and former president who died on Dec. 5. Many of them, including Obama, stood one yard (meter) away from Jantjie.

"What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium ... I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don't know the attack of this problem, how will it comes. Sometimes I react violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me," Jantjie said.

"I was in a very difficult position," he added. "And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I'll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn't embarrass my country."

Asked how often he had become violent, he said "a lot" while declining to provide details.

Jantjie said he was due on the day of the ceremony to get a regular six-month mental health checkup to determine whether the medication he takes was working, whether it needed to be changed or whether he needed to be kept at a mental health facility for treatment.

He said he did not tell the company that contracted him for the event for about $85 that he was due for the checkup, but said the owner of SA Interpreters in Johannesburg was aware of his condition.

AP journalists who visited the address of the company that Jantjie provided found a different company there, whose managers said they knew nothing about SA Interpreters. A woman answered the phone at a number that Jantjie provided and said it was not for the company, and another phone number went to a voicemail that did not identify the person or company with the number.

Jantjie said he received one year of sign language interpretation at a school in Cape Town. He said he has previously interpreted at many events without anyone complaining.

The AP showed Jantjie video footage of him interpreting on stage at the Mandela memorial service.

"I don't remember any of this at all," he said.

__

Associated Press writer Ray Faure in Johannesburg contributed to this report.

___

Follow Alan Clendenning on Twitter at - http://www.twitter.com/alanclendenning

Follow Juergen Baetz on Twitter at - http://www.twitter.com/jbaetz

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

    Attorney wants investigation of city clerk over Arab-American voter suppression

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:43 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:43:20 GMT
    It is the tale of two cities. one paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters fo...
    It is the tale of two cities. one paints a picture of a meticulous Dearborn Heights city clerk, following the law and fighting for a fair election. The other a story of abuse of power, mishandled ballots and voter suppression.Fatima Abdrabboh is an attorney and Michigan's director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee the largest chapter in the country. She is calling for a full-scale investigation into claims that Walter Prusiewicz mishandled ballots from Arab-American voters fo...
  • Warren grandparents upset after grandchildren see racist graffiti at park

    Warren grandparents upset after grandchildren see racist graffiti at park

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 11:15 PM EDT2014-07-30 03:15:40 GMT
    Tuesday afternoon Bruce and Lubertha Callaway took their grandchildren to Shaw Park in Warren when they saw something they couldn't believe.
    Tuesday afternoon Bruce and Lubertha Callaway took their grandchildren to Shaw Park in Warren when they saw something they couldn't believe.
  • 3-year-old shocked, downed power lines electrify fence

    3-year-old shocked, downed power lines electrify fence

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 10:51 PM EDT2014-07-30 02:51:19 GMT
    A 3-year-old boy is in the hospital after getting shocked by an electrical charge.
    A 3-year-old boy is in the hospital after getting shocked by an electrical charge.
  • Download the FOX 2 Apps


  • FOX 2 News Five-Day Forecast
  • What's HotMore>>

  • Caught On Camera: Freight Train Passes Over Women

    Caught On Camera: Freight Train Passes Over Women

    Tuesday, July 29 2014 5:51 PM EDT2014-07-29 21:51:39 GMT
    Two women are counting their blessings after nearly being crushed to death by a freight train.The terrifying ordeal was caught on camera.
    Two women are counting their blessings after nearly being crushed to death by a freight train.The terrifying ordeal was caught on camera.
  • New hearing aid technology syncs with your iPhone

    New hearing aid technology syncs with your iPhone

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:03 PM EDT2014-07-26 01:03:18 GMT
    Ten percent of Americans have some hearing loss but most of the people who could get help from a hearing aid won't wear one because they are embarrassed. But now, new technology may change the way we feel about hearing aids.
    Ten percent of Americans have some hearing loss but most of the people who could get help from a hearing aid won't wear one because they are embarrassed. But now, new technology may change the way we feel about hearing aids.
  • The new way to capture your proposal on video

    The new way to capture your proposal on video

    Friday, July 25 2014 7:35 PM EDT2014-07-25 23:35:24 GMT
    It looks like an ordinary ring box, but it's designed with a hidden camera to capture your special moment.
    It looks like an ordinary ring box, but it's designed with a hidden camera to capture your special moment.
Powered by WorldNow

25 FOX Drive
Dedham, MA 02026

Phone (781) 467-2525

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices