Mandela Memorial: Interpreter recalls hallucinating, watching angels

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Mandela Memorial
Johannesburg, Dec 13: Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, the interpreter who translated in sign language, stood just feet from Barack Obama as he gave his speech in a Soweto stadium on Tuesday, but deaf groups have said his gestures were "gibberish".

Media reported that the interpreter at the centre of a growing scandal in South Africa over his "fake" sign language during Nelson Mandela's memorial service broke his silence on Thursday to claim he is a schizophrenic who suffered from violent outbursts in the past.

The father-of-four defended his bizarre performance, insisting he was a "champion of sign language", but said he started realising something was wrong when he began hallucinating and saw "angels come into the stadium".

The company which put him forward for the job at the service appeared to have "vanished".

Mandela's ex-wife has described his final moments before he passed away last week at his home in Johannesburg. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 77, said she watched as the heartbeat and blood pressure readings on his life-support machine slowly dropped off. "I was holding him, trying to feel his temperature, and he felt cold," she told ITN. "Then he drew his last breath and just rested. He was gone."

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