After the memorial service this week for Nelson Mandela, there were all manner of stories: the “selfie” taken by Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt with Barack Obama and Young Dave, a handshake between Obama and Raul Castro, and the strange case of a sign language interpreter who appeared to have been signing jibberish. The interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, has a history of mental illness.
This time he's right to be feeling smug
Moreover, he admitted that he had a violent past: “The man accused of faking sign-language while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service said Thursday he saw ‘angels’ at the event and has been violent in the past”. Yes, he got close to the Prez, arguably the best protected man on the planet, and he has a violent past.
The report continued “Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were ‘armed policemen around me.’ He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year and has schizophrenia”. One observer was not impressed.
Piers Morgan, still in the 9pm Eastern Time spot at CNN when not making observations on cricket and Arsenal FC, spelt it out: “A man with violent history of schizophrenic episodes, hallucinating & hearing voices, should NOT be standing next to Obama. End”. But instead of others enquiring further about why Jantjie got where he did, Morgan was subjected to a load of stick.
He persisted: “the schizophrenic I am talking about admits to being violent. Are you being wilfully ignorant to this rather salient fact?” he asked in clear frustration, going on “I am well aware the vast majority of schizophrenics aren’t violent. I am also well aware this man admits he is”. Well, it seems Morgan was dead right to be concerned, as eNCA has discovered.
“Mandela deaf interpreter accused of murder” reads their headline. “eNCA can reveal the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial on Tuesday faced a murder charge in 2003 ... Thamsanqa Jantjie, who is being treated for schizophrenia, has also faced rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges”. And he got that close to Barack Obama.
On top of all that, Jantjie is not a qualified sign language interpreter. Right now, the airwaves between Washington DC and Pretoria will be buzzing as the questions are asked and answers demanded. In the meantime, after his post-cricket nap, Piers Morgan will be wearing a smile of quiet self satisfaction.
Because he will be the one saying “I told you so”.