Minister apologises to deaf community

Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile says no one should be allowed to undermine the languages of SA.

ANC deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa lead proceedings at FNB Stadium, with a sign language interpreter next to him on 10 December 2013. Picture: Picture: supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile has apologised to the deaf community after an interpreter used incorrect sign language at Nelson Mandela's memorial service at the FNB Stadium on Tuesday.

In a statement issued this morning, the minister says no one should be allowed to undermine the languages of South Africa.

He has apologised for any offence that may have been suffered.

The interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie says he suffered a schizophrenic episode and hallucinations at the event and was overwhelmed.


There seems to be much confusion regarding Jantjie and the organisation he is affiliated to.

Tuesday's incident with Jantjie sparked outrage and embarrassment among members of the local and international deaf communities.

Earlier on Thursday, Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu came out in strong support of Jantjie.

She said nobody had the right to call him a fake.

Bogopane-Zulu said Jantjie received proper training and was subscribed to a group called South African Translators Organisation.

But South African Translators' Institute chairperson Johan Blaauw says no such organisation exists.