Thamsanqa Jantjie

Thamsanqa Jantjie

*That South African dude who we still don’t really know if is a legitimate sign language interpreter or not is finally speaking out.

As we’ve reported, he’s accused of gesticulating gibberish during a memorial to Nelson Mandela. In other words, most sign language experts are calling him a fake.

But would you believe he’s defending what he calls a “champion” performance? Yes he did. But if  you think his choice words to describe what he did was strange, get ready ’cause you ain’t heard nothing yet.

The “interpreter,” identified as 34-year-old Thamsanqa Jantjie, told Johannesburg’s Star newspaper he started hearing voices in his head and hallucinating, resulting in gestures that made no sense to outraged deaf people around the world.

“There was nothing I could do. I was alone in a very dangerous situation. 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,” he told the paper.
It was a moment in history lost in translation — as an interpreter for the deaf at Nelson Mandela’s memorial used gestures that some are calling fake. NBC’s Ron Allen reports.

He did not know what triggered the attack, Jantjie added, saying he took medication for his schizophrenia.

Millions of TV viewers saw Jantjie interpreting Tuesday at the Mandela memorial attended by leaders from around the world, but South Africa’s leading deaf association on Wednesday denounced him as a fake, saying he was inventing signs.

However, in a radio interview, Jantjie said he was happy with his performance at the memorial to the anti-apartheid hero, who died a week ago at age 95.

“Absolutely, absolutely. I think that I’ve been a champion of sign language,” he told Talk Radio 702.

The controversy has overshadowed South Africa’s 10-day farewell to Mandela, whose remains were lying in state for a second day Thursday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, where he was sworn in as the nation’s first black president in 1994.

Get the rest of this report at NBC News.

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