JOHANNESBURG - The so-called ‘fake’ sign language interpreter at the centre of a storm of international controversy says he is qualified and criticism of his capabilities is unfair.
Thamsanqa Jantjie has confirmed that he is currently receiving treatment for schizophrenia and had an episode while on stage.
Jantjie also hit back at his critics this morning and says he has interpreted at numerous high profile events before and there have been no complaints.
There have also been calls of support for Jantjie with one man saying the criticism is unfounded.
“He has done quite a lot of events for the ANC, government and even non-political organisations. The guy has been on TV for a couple of years now.”
Thamsanqa Jantjie at the ANC Centenary celebrations.
He adds that Jantjie has years of experience in the courts.
“He worked in Boksburg as an interpreter. I actually specifically remember when he indicated to me personally that he wanted to pursue sign language interpretation to advance his career.”
Meanwhile, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane says the issue is being investigated.
“Government is looking into this matter, but they haven’t been able to conclude this inquiry due to the demanding schedule of organising events relating to the state funeral.”
It emerged during Tuesday’s memorial service for former president Nelson Mandela that Jantjie, didn't know what he was doing.
The incident has since led to outrage and embarrassment among the deaf community both locally and internationally.
Properly trained sign language trainers say much of what he was signing was incomprehensible, but he did make references to prawns and rocking horses.
Deaf South Africa has voiced its outrage and government says it is investigating who hired Jantjie.
During the event, several members of the deaf community voiced their complaints with some taking to Twitter.
Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen the first deaf woman in Parliament, tweeted that the official interpreter on stage was signing 'rubbish' and was an embarrassment.
She urged the ANC and event organisers to get him off stage.
A Capetonian sign language teacher also tweeted that he was making no sense and was simply moving his arms to try to look busy.
Speaking through an interpreter, Deaf SA national director Bruno Druchen, says he’s particularly outraged because the organisation submitted a report to the ANC year ago complaining about this individual.
“It’s not me being deaf, government is deaf. I am hoping that through social media, this whole thing will actually make them take notice.”