The interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s funeral who was accused of making up sign language has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, it emerged today.
Thamsanqa Jantjie was taken to a psychiatric hospital near Johannesburg by his wife on Tuesday after she thought he “might have had a breakdown.”
Experts accused Mr Jantjie of referring to “prawns” and “rocking horses” while translating eulogies into sign language at the funeral of the former South Afcrican president last week.
Mr Jantjie insisted afterwards that he was a qualified interpreter, but claimed he had suffered a sudden attack of schizophrenia at the memorial in Johannesburg’s FNB stadium.
He said last week he had been due to go for a check-up on the day of the memorial service, but had postponed it to be at the event.
But it seems the aftermath of his flawed interpretation at the service may have become too much for Mr Jantjie, as a standard check-up on Tuesday ended in the interpreter being admitted to the psychiatric hospital.
Mrs Jantjie said: “The past few days have been hard. We have been supportive because he might have had a breakdown.”
Mr Jantjie stood on stage next to world leaders and Mr Mandela’s family on December 10 while speakers addressed the thousands of people in the FNB stadium.
Experts said his sign language during speeches from speakers including US President Barack Obama was little more than “flapping his arms around".
The White House has since refuted claims that there may have been any danger to Mr Obama’s safety.
Mr Jantjie blamed his failure to deliver appropriate interpretation on a psychiatric episode, claiming he had seen angels coming into the stadium.
The African National Congress (ANC) said it had used Mr Jantjie several times in the past and “had not been aware of any complaints regarding the quality of services, qualifications or reported illness” of the interpreter.
Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the South African Deputy Disability Minister, has since said the company which employed Mr Jantjie had “vanished”.