Mandela's Memorial deaf interpreter accused of MURDER
Thamsanqa Jantjie, a father of four, is accused of being a fake sign language interpreter after, experts say, his gestures during the Nelson Mandela memorial service were meaningless.
The "fake" sign language interpreter who said he suffered a schizophrenic fit onstage at Nelson Mandela's memorial service has a criminal history that includes charges of rape and murder, according to a report.
Thamsanqa Jantjie - who stood near several world leaders, including President Obama, during the event at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg - has been arrested at least five times since the mid-1990s, but he allegedly dodged jail time because he was mentally unfit to stand trial, the South African news station eNCA reported Friday.
The station found that Jantjie, 34, who has a long history of mental illness, has been arrested on suspicion of rape, theft, housebreaking and malicious damage to property. His most recent collar was in 2003, when he faced murder, attempted murder and kidnapping charges, the news station reported.
Jantjie was acquitted on the rape charge in 1994, but was eventually convicted of theft and sentenced to three years in prison. However, the news station said it was unclear if the man ever spent any time behind bars.
The murder charges stemmed from a case that involved several other people, according to the report. The case, which was referred to the South Gauteng High Court, was finalized in 2004, but the news station found the court file empty.
Jantjie stood just 3 feet away from President Obama, one of several heads of state who attended the memorial, as he addressed the crowd at the soccer stadium on Tuesday.
Although the news station reported that Jantjie often skirted convictions because of his mental illness, the outcome of the murder case was unclear.
Jantjie refused to comment about the arrests, but has acknowledged he has schizophrenia.
The father of four, who has revealed he spent more than a year at a mental health facility, told The Star that he was scheduled to check into Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital the same day as Mandela's service, but backed out at the last minute so he could go to the historic event.