Per eNCA’s investigation, Thamsanqa Jantjie (pictured) was charged with rape in 1994, theft in 1995, housebreaking in 1997, malicious damage to property in 1998 and attempted murder, murder and kidnapping charges in 2003.
Most of the charges were dropped, reportedly because he was mentally unfit to stand trial. However, the theft charge stuck and he received three years in prison. It is not known if he served the time. According to court records, Jantjie’s attempted murder, murder and kidnapping charges were referred to the South Gauteng High Court in 2004. eNCA was unable to confirm if the charges was dropped, as he was declared mentally unstable for trial.
During Mandela’s ceremony, sign experts noted that Jantjie was not a certified sign language instructor and that his signs made no sense. Speaking with the Associated Press, Jantijie claims he suffered a hallucination attack while performing the signs, but tried not to panic because of ”armed policemen around me.”
“What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium … 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 on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me,” he said.
He also revealed that he was once hospitalized for a year in a mental health faculty for schizophrenia. Jantijie apologized for his performance, saying, ”I would like to tell everybody that if I’ve offended anyone, please, forgive me. But what I was doing, I was doing what I believe is my calling, I was doing what I believe makes a difference.”
On the day the ceremony, the Johannesburg native said he was due for a regular six-month checkup to ensure his medication was working. He did not tell the company that contracted him for the event about the appointment, but says SA Interpreters was aware of his condition.
But when AP reporters visited the company’s address Jantjie gave, they found another company; managers told them they’d never heard of SA.
Jantijie also said he didn’t recall his Mandela interpretation experience to begin with. ”I don’t remember any of this at all,” he told reporters.
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