The story of Thamasanqa Jantjie, the “fake” sign language interpreter at late South African President Nelson Mandela’s funeral who later revealed he suffers from schizophrenia and saw angels descending into the stadium, has taken another strange twist, as it has been reported that Jantjie faced murder, rape and other charges over a 10-year span, according to an exclusive report from South African media outlet eNCA.
Jantjie has been a black eye to South Africa, embarrassing the country after advocacy groups for the deaf outed the 34-year-old’s sign language gestures as gibberish.
Now it appears that Jantjie also has a lengthy history of criminal charges against him dating back to 1994, when he was charged with rape, according to eNCA. The most serious charges against Jantjie were for murder, attempted murder and kidnapping in 2003.
The “fake” sign language interpreter, who stood just a foot away from U.S. President Barack Obama and a number of world leaders during Mandela’s memorial service at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, refused to comment on the charges when confronted by eNCA.
Jantjie was charged along with two other people in the 2003 murder, attempted murder and kidnapping case. The case was “finalized” in 2006, according to eNCA, but the television network said its investigation into Jantjie’s criminal background showed that the case file was “empty.”
The fake sign language interpreter was acquitted of the 1994 rape charge. His only criminal conviction was for theft in 1995; he received a three-year sentence for the offense.
He was also charged with housebreaking in 1997 and malicious damage to property in 1998. According to eNCA, many of the charges against Jantjie were dropped because he wasn’t mentally fit for trial.
In addition to the criminal charges against him, Jantjie was also a complainant in a number of cases.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Jantjie said he is a schizophrenic who sometimes acts violently and suffers from hallucinations.
“What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium,” he told the AP, referring to Mandela’s memorial service. “I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don’t know the attack of this problem, how will it comes. Sometimes I react violent.”