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Report: 'Interpreter' at Mandela memorial charged with murder

Dec. 13, 2013 at 2:31 PM
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- Thamasanqa Jantjie, the sign-language interpreter at a memorial for former South African President Nelson Mandela, was once charged with murder, eNCA reports.

The South African television news broadcaster, said Jantjie has faced other serious criminal charges. In most cases, the charges appear to have been dropped because Jantjie, a diagnosed schizophrenic, was found unfit to stand trial.

The selection of Jantjie as raised questions about the planning of Tuesday's memorial event and its security. Jantjie, who is not a qualified interpreter, provided signing that has been described as gibberish.

He was on the platform a few feet away from U.S. President Barack Obama, South African President Jacob Zuma and scores of other world leaders.

Jantjie and others were charged with murder, attempted murder and kidnapping, eNCA reported. The case was referred to the South Gauteng High Court in 2004 and closed two years later, but the broadcaster said the file is empty and contains no information on the disposition of the charges.

Jantjie was charged with housebreaking, rape and other serious crimes in the 1990s, eNCA said.

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