Mandela Interpreter Claims Schizophrenic Episode

Source: Kenichi Serino and Kim Hjelmgaard / USA Today

JOHANNESBURG — The South African sign language interpreter accused of using “fake” signs at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service this week said he suffered a schizophrenic episode at the event during which he hallucinated and heard voices.

Thamsanqa Jantjie made the admissions to Johannesburg’s Star newspaper Thursday following allegations that have led to him being called an impostor by sign language experts.

“There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation,” Jantjie said. “I tried to control myself and not show the world what was going on. I am very sorry, it’s the situation I found myself in.”

The latest revelations prompted an apology Thursday by a South African cabinet minister who said a mistake was made in hiring Jantjie. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu apologized to South Africa’s deaf community during a press conference but denied that the country felt embarrassed by the controversy.

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