Mandela Sign Language Interpreter Faced Murder Charge

Ever want to meet with the president? Apparently it’s not that hard.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, the sign-language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, raised suspicions when experts called him out for faking it. What’s more, he said he heard voices and hallucinated while experiencing a schizophrenic episode on stage just feet from world leaders, including President Obama.

“There was nothing I could do,” he told South African newspaper The Star on Thursday. “I was alone in a very dangerous situation. 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.”

Dangerous, indeed. Jantije reportedly once faced a murder charge and other criminal allegations. But the charged were allegedly dropped because he was deemed unfit to stand trial.

The incident sparked outrage among deaf people and world governments. The South African government has apologized and is now investigating the interpreter. A U.S. Secret Service spokesman told the Associated Press that criminal background checks of the guests on stage was the responsibility of South African authorities.

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