Attention Secret Service: Schizophrenic ‘signer’ once charged with murder, rape

obama with sign interpreter

AFP/Getty Image via The Daily Mail

The sign language impersonator who spent hours within arm reach of the president of the United States and other world leaders at the funeral for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday has a criminal history that includes charges of murder, rape, kidnapping and theft, the Daily Mail reported Friday.

And many of the charges over the years were dropped because he’s apparently schizophrenic, the Daily Mail reported, citing the South African news site eNCA.

The fake interpreter, 34-year-old Thamsanqa Jantjie, was seen by viewers around the world as he made nonsensical “signs” to interpret speakers paying tribute to Mandela for the world’s deaf.

The incident has received worldwide attention, but the eNCA report maintains it’s the first to uncover Jantjie’s violent criminal past. The website, an offshoot of South Africa’s first 24-hour television news station, argues its cursory investigation highlights the flawed security around an event that gathered leaders from around the world.

“eNCA was able to establish these facts in less than 48 hours, posing serious questions about the security arrangements at Tuesday’s memorial and why the government failed to pick up Jantjie’s past.

“During the memorial, it emerged on social media networks that Jantjie wasn’t a properly qualified sign language interpreter and that his signing during that historic event didn’t make any sense.

“The story went global and Jantjie was portrayed as a joke.

“But this story took a serious turn when eNCA established he was mentally ill.”

“He said that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were ‘armed policemen around me,’” the Daily Mail wrote. “Asked how often he had become violent, he said ‘a lot’ while declining to provide details.”

It’s the second high-profile event where an imposter got within easy attack range of the United States president.

In November 2009, the first state dinner at the White House was notoriously crashed by two Virginia socialites and aspiring reality TV stars. At the time, the Secret Service took responsibility for the security breach, but the White House social secretary, an Obama Chicago crony named Desiree Rogers found herself heading back to the Windy City by the spring.

Reality TV stars get in the presidential receiving line at state dinners thanks to an inept family friend in the White House. Lunatics get on international television to “interpret” for the president at state funerals, thanks to ineptitude of a massive scale in a foreign country.

Incompetence permeates every part of the Obama administration, from basic security to Kathleen Sebelius.

And conservatives are the real threat?

Related: ‘Fake’ sign interpreter blames schizophrenia; he was hearing voices

Signing interpreter at Mandela service a fake; waving hands around with no meaning

Watch: A cappella group’s amazing version of ‘Little Drummer Boy’ goes insanely viral

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About Joe Saunders

Joe Saunders, a 25-year newspaper veteran, is a staff writer and editor for BizPac Review who lives in Tallahassee and covers capital and Florida politics. Email Joe at

  • King Umbarrii

    It did not matter that he was an insane murder. He was black.

  • Rob

    give the guy a break, he was the only person that qualified to sign language Obama’s speech.

    • Ted Fiorito

      He knew sign language? That is not what I read lol….

  • Charles Wesley

    The guy is insane, so what the hell is he doing within an arm’s length of world leaders, incompetent though some of them are?

    If he had gone more nuts, how many would have been killed? Would the left be screaming if the President (Or Usurper, if you prefer) that it was a vast, right-wing plot to destroy the US? Of course they would…

    Incompetent, idiot, ignorant… It’s time the folks wake up… the end of the struggle is near; the last one standing wins.

  • EliseR

    Signer was probably hired by Ted Cruz to attack Obama. That’s why Cruz had to leave the ceremony so abruptly.

    • RepublicAnne

      Surely you jest…

      • lovinspoonful

        EliseR is either a PLANT OR A PROGRAMMED ROBOT. I have enc0utnered her before and she never makes any sense.

        • Mbrown

          so shes a democrat!

    • FarmerBetty

      that’s quite the accusation… you are not real bright..

    • Mlm46

      Your humor is lacking in, duh, humor!

    • lovinspoonful

      What tripe. Mr. Cruz probably left due to the idiotic actions of our so-called leader.

    • EliseR

      That sounds like the kind of language that gets you reported and banned. Good thing it’s easy to see your ISP.

      • justme

        Ohh nooooo……please don’t……lmao. STFU!

  • RepublicAnne

    The Pygmy was chosen to make Obama look taller…

  • Kenneth Clark

    Just additional proof that many of those diagnosed with “Mental Illness” can control themselves…

    “He said that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were ‘armed policemen around me,’”

    …just takes a little authority to persuade them to behave. So is it really a “Mental Illness” or is it simply a self control problem?

  • discripplemation

    i fail to see how the obama administration is incompetent for the south african government hiring a fraud… conservatives aren’t the threat, idiots are. trying to use this incident as an example of incompetence in ANYONE besides who ever was responsible for hiring that man is ridiculous.

    • Yvonne McCastle Pinter

      One would think our country would take some precautions and do at least a background check on someone getting that close to our President.

    • Mbrown

      The USA Secret Service is in charge of The safety of the POTUS where ever he is, no matter what country he is in!

      • Rob

        they are probably tired of the king like most of us are, that’s why they relaxed.

  • Mbrown

    Im sure he actually made more sense than any member of the Obama Admin.ever has!!

  • Stacey Schwamberger

    he may be insane, but incompetent, I mean Biden is not 45 so he sucked at signing and whatever his other “assignment?”

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