The man accused of faking knowledge of sign language at Nelson Mandela's memorial reportedly has a long rap sheet that includes kidnapping, rape, murder, and theft charges.
Thamsanqa Jantjie was allegedly charged with rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges. Jantjie was acquitted of the rape charge but was sentenced to three years in prison for theft; however, eNCA says that his court files are strangely slim, so it's not known if he actually served the time or not.
Jantjie publicly admitted this week that his signing was compromised at the memorial because he is schizophrenic and was having hallucinations during the event, where he saw angles streaming into the stadium. His mental health seems to have been a factor in the charges he faced in the past.
“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…life is unfair. This illness is unfair. Anyone who doesn’t understand this illness will think that I’m just making this up,” he said.
Jantjie was hired by a company called SA Interpreters, but when South African officials attempted to make contact with them following the backlash over Jantjie's botched signing, they found another business at the address.
Image: Wikimedia Commons