NPA probes interpreter, murder case link

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US president Barack Obama walks to the podium as Thamsanqa Jantjie looks on in this photo of the Nelson Mandela memorial. Picture: Werner Beukes

 Johannesburg - No court records of a murder case involving the "fake" interpreter at former president Nelson Mandela's memorial were currently available, the National Prosecuting Authority said on Friday

 "I cannot confirm that the guy was charged, but I cannot deny it either," said spokesman Nathi Mncube. "There are no records right now."

Mncube made his comments after eNCA television news reported that Thamsanqa Jantjie was involved in a murder court case, was convicted of theft, and was charged with various other crimes in the past few years.

Jantjie was apparently one of three men involved in a murder, attempted murder and kidnapping case from 2003, that was referred to the High Court in Johannesburg in 2004, and finalised in November 2006.

However, the outcome was unknown as the court file for the case was found empty by eNCA reporters.

Mncube said the television station had provided the NPA with a police case number, but despite efforts to trace a record, one had not been found by Friday afternoon.

He said a case dating back to 2006, would "take a while" to trace.

Using court and police records, eNCA established that Jantjie was convicted of theft in 1995, and was recorded to have received a three-year sentence.

He was charged with housebreaking in July 1997, and malicious damage to property in April 1998.

Jantjie was charged with rape in September 1994, but was acquitted.

Jantjie was just metres away from President Jacob Zuma, US President Barack Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro, and Mandela's widow Graca Machel during Mandela's memorial at FNB Stadium, in Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said the government would investigate claims that Jantjie did not use intelligible sign language.

After the report on his criminal background, Lt-Gen Solomon Makgale said: "As the minister (Chabane) said, there is going to be an investigation after the funeral."

In response to a request for comment, acting government spokeswoman Phumla Williams also referred to Chabane's comment about government having noted concerns about the "alleged incorrect use of sign language at the national memorial service".

"Government is looking into this matter, but has not been able to conclude this inquiry due to the demanding schedule of organising events related to the state funeral," Williams quotes Chabane as having said.

"Government will report publicly on any information it may establish. This report will be presented to the media in due course."

After the memorial, Jantjie told various media outlets he had suffered a schizophrenic episode in which he had seen angels, and that he had panicked when he realised he was surrounded by armed police.


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