After Nelson Mandela’s recent passing, people all over the world mourned the loss of such a visionary, and memorials were held in his memory last week. The memorial held in South Africa with several world leaders, however, is the one that got all the attention, and not necessarily in a good way. Over the weekend, “Saturday Night Live” capitalized on the headlines and poked fun at the “fake interpreter” who captured the nation’s attention.
Thamsanqa Jantjie says he went to a school for the deaf and is well-versed in sign language, but his gestures during the memorial have been denounced by several experts who say it was just gibberish. Jantjie also says he suffers from schizophrenia and was having wild visions during the service of angels streaming into the stadium, which impeded his ability to sign.
“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.
An investigation into Jantjie’s background pulled up arrest records for theft, rape, and murder–among other charges–but the files were incomplete so it’s not known whether he ever served time. Jantjie has not commented on his past.
“Saturday Night Live” didn’t delve into anything so sinister, simply sticking to the memorial service and Jantjie’s less-than-impressive signing. They also mocked President Obama’s selfie with the Danish Prime Minister.