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Thamsanqa Jantjie
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    (circa 1979- )
    Born in South Africa
    Sign language interpreter at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela
    'Signs' were actually meaningless gestures
    Accused of being a fraud
    An assessment of his performance by the director of Sign Language Education and Development in Cape Town: 'There was not one sign there. Nothing. He was literally flapping his arms around.'
    He reportedly had also signed nonsense while interpreting at the ceremony for the 100th anniversary of the African National Congress (2012).
    He blamed his poor performance on having hallucinated angels descending on the stadium.
    He admitted to being a schizophrenic with a history of violence -- just the person you want sharing a stage with dozens of world leaders.
    According to the South African news channel eNCA, he had been charged with rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998) and murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003); most of the cases had been dismissed when he was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial.
    He was due for his regular six-month mental health checkup on the day of the Mandela memorial service -- information he kept secret from the company that hired him.
    After the memorial service, the government claimed that the company that had hired him had 'vanished into thin air.'
    He called himself 'a champion of sign language.'
    He apologized to anyone who was offended by his performance.
    He was paid $85 a day, well under the standard rate of $164 per hour, demonstrating the perils of penny-pinching on your sign language interpreters.
    Sure it's easy to judge, but wait until angels descend on your workplace and see how well you do at your job.

Credit: C. Fishel

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