Sign language interpreter at Mandela memorial a fake


South Africa's deaf community on Wednesday accused the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial of being a fake, who had merely flapped his arms around during speeches.

"He's a complete fraud," Cara Loening, director of Sign Language Education and Development in Cape Town. "He wasn't even doing anything, There was not one sign there. Nothing. He was literally flapping his arms around."

The interpreter, who translated U.S. President Barack Obama's speech, looked as if he was "trying to swat a few flies away from his face and his head".

"The deaf community in South Africa are completely outraged and nobody knows who he is," said Loening. "We can't find a name or anything. The organizations who have accredited interpreters do not know him at all."

The government organizers of the event, as well as broadcaster SABC, could not immediately be contacted.

Attended by nearly 100 sitting and former heads of state, the speeches at Mandela's memorial on Tuesday were supposed to be interpreted into sign language for deaf viewers.

Delphin Hlungwane, a spokesperson for the Deaf Federation of South Africa, said the man picked for the job was "just gesturing in the air".

"He didn't interpret at all, he had zero percent accuracy," he said.

"International people were watching it as well and they all said he was not using any kind of sign language. They all said they don't understand him," said Hlungwane.

Loening said her organization was getting mails from around the world "wondering what on earth this man was doing there".

"It's a real embarrassment. Its complete disrespect for the deaf community and for what Nelson Mandela stood for and the support which he gave toward the deaf community."

The government communications office said a statement would be put out shortly.

The country's public broadcaster, which provided the feed of the event, could not be immediately reached.

© (c) 2013 AFP

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Maybe he was trying to get the attention of the real interpreter. Was he screened for weapons?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

You would think that the South African security services as well as the US secret service would have checked this guy's credentials before letting him get so close to Obama or other dignitaries. In the past there have been reports questioning the background of this imposter as a signer and why did no one check him out before such an important event which makes it a mockery.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Bizarre. How did this happen?

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Heads will roll again at the US Secret Service like they did after the trip to Venezuela after missing this impostor. Bad management, old boy school cronies who don't check out the details.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This clown had another similar "performance " last year at another official event. Epic fail, or success?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Sign language seems to be a secret language which no one can understand.

-14 ( +0 / -13 )

That was enough for me. I knew what he tried to say.

-9 ( +1 / -9 )

If a complaint is made and no one is around to hear it, is there an issue?

-10 ( +3 / -11 )

I studied sign language in college and though I forgot a lot of it, it is easy to tell the guy was a fake. Just watch it, you could tell he was overdoing it like he was doing some dance.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

you could tell he was overdoing it like he was doing some dance.

reminds of that 'para-para' dance craze in Japan a decade ago.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Dude@Yes, he looked like a hula dancer with eczema. Even I could tell he was faking it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I couldn't help but laugh at this, I might go to hell for this, but admit it, it is quite funny.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Sign language interpreter at Mandela memorial a fake

So were the security measures.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Also worthy of note, is the absence of a Japanese representative at the funeral. Anyway back to the matter, this man should be fired...or forced into training. Isn't this some type of fraud? Such a shame

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

this was known by the white house if you interpret the latest press statements correctly- they consider this a :minor: incident- otherwise what does a few deaf and hearing challenged people matter ,,,,,,

i think that is the problem- rather than even try to get an interpreter the countries are faking it and expecting people not to care - i guess they feel being hearing impaired means there is a learning impairment as well - right?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The "signer" is dyslexic, perhaps?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

This event, luckily, wasn't the funeral, it was the memorial - or wake, I suppose.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"He was a complete fraud"..... how ironic that the same can be said of many of the celebrities he was interpreting for. What supreme irony!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

That's HYSTERICAL ( sorry deaf people ).

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Also worthy of note, is the absence of a Japanese representative at the funeral.

Aside from the Crown Prince and former PM Fukuda?

But yeah. Weird news story - I really want to know the back-story on this guy.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Maybe he was just shouting to be seen above the noise of the crowd cheering?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

The host is responsible for selecting the interpreter.

The Secret Service doesn't care if an interpreter is incompetent or a fake interpreter - what they care about is if he's dangerous. As long as he's not dangerous, he could be dumb and dumber for all they care.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

A fake at a wake - love it.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

He faked it and almost made it! Almost! Not enough to get his paycheck.


-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Most likely it was lost in translation??

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Saw this on TV. As I can't read sign language, I can only say that this dude seemed to know what he was doing. Now that I know he's fake ... it is funny to watch him in action.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I listened to a South African radio station live on the Net this afternoon and they interviewed the sign language interpreter. The interpreter admitted he suffers from schizophrenia and thinks he had an attack during the interpretation. He also thinks it happened at that time because he was so excited at being there. Listening to him during the interview, he had quite a bad stutter too.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Apparently he had skitzophrenea. I am not sure how to spell it correctly. I just read that he had a episode while he was up there because he felt so happy. Poor guy, he also only got paid $85 for the day!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@dracpoo2: Actually Crown Prince Naruhito attended the memorial

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

TIA - This is Africa.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Naked Gun fans will understand that the guy was a secret agent with information that one of the dignitaries was to be assassinated. The only way to get close to the target was to tie up the real signer and take his place.

Leslie Nielsen, it should have been you.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yes, this was in Africa, but even Africans need to learn how to sign language and respect the deaf! So just relax and let Africans have fun!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This is totally bizarre.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He was doing the "Soweto Style" dance.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So, a fake interpreter was allowed up on stage standing next to a plethora of world leaders. Anyone want to venture a guess as to just how dangerous a moment that was? It could have led to an international incident (aka terrorist attack). We are all lucky that it was just a SNL skit:

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It's possible that it wasn't a security failure and the security agencies already were aware of his history. It would be very easy to prove his "schizophrenia" claim by having him sign in front of news cameras from a script read to him "cold". If he can successfully sign, then I might believe his schizophrenia claim.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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