Mandela Signer Defends Himself As Sign Language ''Champion'' TALKRADIO 702 REUTERS
Text size
AP
Sign language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie, who interpreted at the memorial service of late former president Nelson Mandela, at his home in Bramfischerville, South Africa, Dec. 11, 2013 Photo by AP

The man accused of faking sign language during his interpretation at the memorial event for Nelson Mandela has claimed he has schizophrenia.

Thamsanqa Jantjie told The Associated Press that he was having visions of angels coming into the stadium and was trying not to panic at the "armed policemen around me." He also said he has been violent in the past.

Jantjie stood gesticulating 1 meter (three feet) from U.S. President Barack Obama and others who spoke at the ceremony that was broadcast word-wide.

He insists he was correctly interpreting the world leaders' speeches into sign-language for the hearing impaired.

According to BBC News, the owners of the firm that supplied Jantjie to the event have "vanished."

South African minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, who said SA Interpreters had gone missing, apologized for the poor quality of interpretation.

"He is Xhosa speaking. The English was a bit too much for him," she was quoted by BBC as saying.