The sign language interpreter who angered many with his questionable performance at Nelson Mandela's memorial service Tuesday has spoken out against claims that he is a rapist and murderer.
In a phone interview with USA Today from South Africa Saturday, Thamsanqa Jantjie said he was innocent of the accusations.
"I've never raped anybody ... I've never [done]… all of those things that they talked about," said Jantjie.
As we reported earlier, a report from South African media outlet eNCA asserted that the 34-year-old man had faced murder, rape and other charges over a 10-year span. The TV news outlet reported that Jantjie has a long history of criminal charges against him dating back to 1994. These includes charges of murder and kidnapping in 2003, rape in 1994 and theft in 1995.
USA Today says that during the interview, the "fake" interpreter "deflected questions about whether he had faced charges for the alleged crimes." He instead wanted to focus mainly on the events that occurred at the memorial service on Tuesday and his experience as an interpreter.
"I've been doing this job for a quite number of years without any complaints. I've done many international events for my country without any complaints," Jantjie said. But after reviewing video of his performance, Francois Deysel -- a sign language interpreter with the Deaf Federation of South Africa -- said that Jantjie's signing meant nothing.
"There was no sign language used. It was only slapping of hands and movement of arms," concluded Deysel.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Jantjie said he is a schizophrenic who sometimes acts violently and suffers from hallucinations. He claims that he experienced an episode during the memorial service -- while standing next to President Barack Obama and other world leaders -- that caused him to flub his signing.
“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 come. Sometimes I react violent.”