ANC distances itself from interpreter

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IOL pic dec17 interpreter thami jantjie

Associated Press

Thamsanqa Jantjie gestures at his home during an interview with the Associated Press in Johannesburg. Picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi

Johannesburg -

The African National Congress had nothing to do with the appointment of a bogus sign language interpreter at former president Nelson Mandela's memorial service, the party said on Monday.

“The ANC reiterates that the organisation did not take part in the government process to procure the service provider for the memorial service,” ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.

He was reacting to media reports that some employees of the ANC owned a company that employed the interpreter, Thamsanqa “Thami” Jantjie.

The Sunday Times reported that Jantjie was employed by a company owned by the ANC's religious and traditional affairs desk head, Bantubahle Xozwa.

Xozwa told the paper that Jantjie was employed as an administrator and facilitator in his company, South African Interpreters.

“Thamsanqa is not an interpreter,” Xozwa was quoted as saying.

“He was disqualified years ago on the basis of his health. He was interpreting at the memorial service in his personal capacity.”

Jantjie had a history of mental problems.

He told the newspaper that he was a patient of Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital in Krugersdorp.

He was discharged and started working after being medicated and monitored by doctors.

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

Mthembu said the ANC supported the probe by the government.

After the memorial at FNB Stadium in Soweto on Tuesday, 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. - Sapa


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