The man who used jibberish sign language at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service also used incoherent hand gestures to sign a notorious anti-white song sung last year by current South African President Jacob Zuma.
Thamsanqua Jantjie, 34, late said that he is schizophrenic and was hallucinating during the Mandela memorial speeches. The interpreter also admitted that he’d been prone to fits of violence in the past, an admission that was worrisome given his proximity to President Barack Obama and other world leaders.
According to NBC News, Jantjie has worked two other gigs on behalf of the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s majority party. He was paid $85 per diem for his work at the memorial, NBC reported.
One was an event where President Zuma led gatherers in “Kill the Boer,” an apartheid protest song that South African courts have ruled is hate speech.
Boer is an Afrikaans word for farmer and is often used to refer to whites. Thousands of South Africa’s white farmers have been murdered since the end of apartheid. Some have called this a form of genocide and claim that the song provokes racial violence.
Zuma and other ANC leaders have come under fire in the past for singing the song. The ANC largely defends the song as part of the history of its struggle against apartheid-era oppression.
But the hearing-impaired would not have understood Jantjie’s interpretation of the violent song, which contains lyrics like “We going to shoot them with the machine gun” and “You are a Boer, we are going to hit them and you are going to run.”
“He does not interpret a bit at the beginning where Zuma says ‘Come together all the winners,'” said Bencie Woll, director of the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre at University College, London. “As an interpreter, he should be interpreting everything said by the speaker. When he does sign, there is little evidence of any facial expression, just as in the Mandela clip.”
Woll said that while she cannot say whether Jantjie was using South African sign language, “Kill the Boer” has many iconic signs.
“I can identify SHOOT, RUN, WILL etc., and these are repeated throughout the various verses. All of what he does looks very inexpressive and mechanistic,” Woll told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Jantjie, who stands as close to Zuma during the song as he did to Obama during his Mandela memorial speech, gestures sporadically during the song. He mimics what looks like someone firing a machine gun and also pumps his arms as if running, though he offers no signs for other song lyrics.
Jantjie’s fraudulent interpretations may be some of his least disturbing behavior. On Friday, eNCA.com reported that Jantjie was accused of murder in 2003. He also faced charges for kidnapping, theft, housebreaking and attempted murder. Jantjie was sentenced to three years in prison in the theft case, though there are no records to indicate whether he served the sentence, according to eNCA.
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