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Interpreter At Mandela Event: I Was Hallucinating

By The Associated Press | WBUR
Thursday, December 12, 2013

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, has 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. However, many questions remain, including who in the government hired the company that contracted Jantjie, how much money the government paid the company and Jantjie’s own involvement with the company – and even whether it really exists.

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