Is he also fak­ing schizophre­nia?

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Front Page -

In­ter­preter ex­plains bizarre sign­ing at Man­dela me­mo­rial by say­ing he saw an­gels, but ex­pert says she’s never seen such ges­tures in psy­chotic sign­ers

The man ac­cused of fak­ing sign in­ter­pre­ta­tion while stand­ing along­side world lead­ers like U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama at Nel­son Man­dela’s me­mo­rial ser­vice said Thurs­day he hal­lu­ci­nated that an­gels were en­ter­ing the sta­dium, has schizophre­nia and has been vi­o­lent in the past.

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 and a half years.

The state­ments by Jan­tjie also raise se­ri­ous se­cu­rity is­sues for Obama, other heads of state and United Na­tions Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon who stood next to Jan­tjie as they made speeches at FNB Sta­dium in Soweto, Jo­han­nes­burg’s famed black town­ship. The cer­e­mony hon­oured Man­dela, the an­ti­a­partheid icon and for­mer pres­i­dent who died on Dec. 5.

A South African deputy Cabi­net min­is­ter, Hen­dri­etta Bo­gopane-Zulu, later held a news con­fer­ence to an­nounce that “a mis­take hap­pened” in the hir­ing of Jan­tjie. How­ever, many ques­tions re­main, in­clud­ing who in the govern­ment hired the com­pany that con­tracted Jan­tjie, how much money the govern­ment paid the com­pany and Jan­tjie’s own in­volve­ment with the com­pany — and even whether it re­ally ex­ists.

AP jour­nal­ists who vis­ited the ad­dress of the com­pany that Jan­tjie pro­vided found a dif­fer­ent com­pany there, whose man­agers said they

Quoted “This does not look like any­thing I have seen in sign­ers with psy­chosis.” Jo Atkin­son, clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and re­searcher at the Cen­ter for Deaf­ness, Cog­ni­tion and Lan­guage, on Thamsanqa

Jan­tjie’s sign­ing

knew noth­ing about SA In­ter­preters. A woman who an­swered the phone at a num­ber that Jan­tjie pro­vided con­firmed that she worked at the com­pany that hired him for the me­mo­rial ser­vice but de­clined com­ment and hung up.

Govern­ment of­fi­cials said they have tried to track down the com­pany that pro­vided Jan­tjie but the own­ers “have van­ished into thin air,” said Bo­gopane-Zulu, deputy min­is­ter of Women, Chil­dren and Peo­ple with Dis­abil­i­ties.

She apol­o­gized to deaf peo­ple around the world who were of­fended by Jan­tjie’s in­com­pre­hen­si­ble sign­ing and said an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der way to deter­mine how Jan­tjie was hired and what vet­ting process, if any, he un­der­went for his se­cu­rity clear­ance.

A med­i­cal ex­pert with Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don cau­tioned that Jan­tjie’s un­usual sign lan­guage didn’t look like it was caused by schizophre­nia or another psy­chosis.

“The dis­rup­tion of sign lan­guage in peo­ple with schizophre­nia takes many forms but this does not look like any­thing I have seen in sign­ers with psy­chosis,” said Jo Atkin­son, who is a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and re­searcher at the Cen­ter for Deaf­ness, Cog­ni­tion and Lan­guage.

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