Sign language interpreter at Mandela memorial said he had schizophrenic visions of ‘angels’

BY newsdesk  December 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM EDT

The reportedly “fake” sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service says he suffered a schizophrenic episode.

In an interview with Johannesburg’s “The Star,” interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie said, “there was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation.”

Jantjie told The Associated Press that he had visions of “angels” that disoriented him, but he tried to remain calm without panic. He also said that he had previously been hospitalized for more than a year in a mental facility.

Wilma Newhoudt, a deaf member of South Africa Parliament, took to Twitter to criticize Jantjie.

The company that provided Jantije as translator did so for a rate of $77 a day, a fee that is far below the standard charge of up to $164 an hour.

South African government officials are now trying to track down the company that provided Jantjie, but cannot locate the owners.

Bogopane-Zulu, deputy minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities told the Associated Press that sign language interpreters in South Africa are typically swapped every 20 minutes to keep stable concentration levels. Jantjie, however, was on the stage for more than four hours.

The AP posted a video interview with Jantjie:

H/T Colleen Shalby