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Thu Oct 23 06:34:57 SAST 2014

ANC religious and traditional affairs head hired Mandela memorial mimer

Sapa | 16 December, 2013 08:04
Thamsanqa Jantjie.
Image by: RAYMOND PRESTON

The bogus sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service was employed by a company owned by the ANC's religious and traditional affairs desk head Bantubahle Xozwa.

Xozwa told the Sunday Times that Thamsanqa Jantjie was employed as an administrator and facilitator in his company, South African Interpreters.

"Thamsanqa is not an interpreter," Xozwa was quoted as saying.

"He was disqualified years ago on the basis of his health. He was interpreting at the memorial service in his personal capacity."

Jantjie had a history of mental problems.

"I am a patient of Sterkfontein. I was discharged and started working after being medicated and monitored by doctors," Jantjie told the Sunday Times. He was referring to the Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital in Krugersdorp.

He told the newspaper he was part of a group who burnt to death two people in 2003.

"It was a community thing, what you call mob justice, and I was also there," Jantjie was quoted as saying.

He and several others faced murder, attempted murder, and kidnapping charges. Charges against him were later dropped because he was found to be mentally unfit to stand trial.

Deputy Minister of Women, Children and the Disabled Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu told the Sunday Times her department was looking into the matter as Jantjie had been accredited and was granted access to the VIP stage.

"There's no way you can just rock up and stand next to a president. Somebody, somewhere is lying," she told the paper.

On Wednesday, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said the government would investigate claims that Jantjie did not use intelligible sign language.

After the memorial at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday, Jantjie told various media outlets he had suffered a schizophrenic episode in which he had seen angels, and that he had panicked when he realised he was surrounded by armed police.

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