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Interpreter at Mandela memorial stands by his performance

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(CNN) — The sign language interpreter widely ridiculed for his performance at the Nelson Mandela memorial stands by his work.

Thamsanqa Jantjie told CNN affiliate Radio 702 in Johannesburg that he is a fully qualified interpreter and has been trusted in the past with other big events.

“I’ve interpreted in many press conferences, including the presidential conference,” he said. “There was no one at all that said I interpreted wrong.”

Not so, says the head of the South Africa Translators’ Institute.

There were complaints last year after Jantjie interpreted the proceedings at the ruling African National Conference elective conference, the institute’s chairman Johan Blaauw told the South African Press Association.

“If I was not interpreting right, why was it was not picked up at that time?” Jantjie said. “You must remember, you are talking about an interpreter who has been interpreting through these years. And if I was interpreting wrong through these years, why should it become an issue now? It’s one of the questions I’ve never ever gotten an answer for.”

The radio station interviewer asked Jantjie to comment on media reports that he was hearing voices in his head and hallucinating during the Mandela event Tuesday.

Pressed twice, Jantjie reluctantly acknowledged that he was a “patient receiving a treatment in schizophrenia.”

Sign educators on Mandela interpreter

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  • jamison-jones

    why is it that everything has to measured againt what we are ‘used’ to??
    if somebody speaks different than us, we brand them crazy or deficient!! we as americans are not used to strangers!! we loathe anything that aint remotely like us!! guess what, he’s a south african interpreter and he interprets for the deaf in south africa. who are we to start questioning his credentials?? the south african deaf people understand him! whats our problem???

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