The sign language “interpreter,” Thamsanqa Jantjie stunned millions of deaf people with his gibberish hand gestures at the Nelson Mandela memorial on Tuesday. But new developments about Jantjie’s violent past raise even more security concerns considering his arms-length proximity to the world’s leaders, including President Barack Obama.
A South African TV news outlet, eNCA, is reporting that Jantjie faced a murder charge, among other criminal charges of “rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003).”
Former Secret Service agent and author of Life Inside the Bubble, Dan Bongino, talked to DC-based talk station WMAL 105.9 FM on Thursday about the heartburn of short notice trips and the security challenges of an unknown language interpreter at foreign events:
“What bothers me the most about this is that you have to view security as a series of centric rings or 360 degree bubbles. If you have someone like that in the outer perimeter, could be up to a mile away if you push the perimeter out far from the president, you have time to fix it even if he’s running toward you… When you’re in the inner perimeter within arms reach of the president, you have no time at all.”
“I have the utmost faith in the men and women of the Secret Service, but the political pressure they likely faced to ‘make this event happen’ was overwhelming, ” Bongino told The Daily Caller on Friday. “On foreign visits, the Secret Service is forced to trust that the domestic security force will provide the security force promised. It is clear in this case that the deal was not upheld.”
More than 90 heads of state and governments attended the ceremony at the First National Bank Stadium in South Africa, including former U.S. presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.