ANC fingers state for organising 'fake' interpreter
12 December 2013, 23:02
Johannesburg - The memorial for Nelson Mandela at FNB
Stadium where an inadequate interpreter was used, was organised by the state
and not the ANC, the party said on Thursday.
"Since yesterday [Wednesday], the African National
Congress has been inundated with enquiries from local and international media
regarding the sign language interpreter," spokesperson Jackson Mthembu
said in a statement.
"The ANC confirms that the organisation has over the
years utilised the services of Thamsanqa Jantjie. The official memorial service
held for president Mandela, however, was organised by the state and not the
Mthembu said the way Jantjie's services were procured
were thus government and not ANC processes.
"Because of this, the ANC is not in a position to
offer a view on how his services were secured by government," he said.
"It is important to make the point that, up until
yesterday, the ANC had not been aware of any of complaints regarding the
quality of services, qualifications or reported illnesses of Jantjie."
The party would follow up the correspondence sent to it
and, where necessary, act on it.
The ANC welcomed the investigation instituted by the
government into the matter and urged all interested parties to await its
outcome so the full facts of what happened could be ascertained.
"Our common responsibility at this time is ensuring
a fitting send-off for the father of our nation, icon of our struggle
Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe comrade Nelson Mandela," said Mthembu.
Earlier on Thursday, Deputy Minister for people with
Disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said that using Jantjie's services was a
mistake, but that it was not something South Africa should be embarrassed
"We can't be told we are embarrassed... did a
mistake happen? Yes," she said.
"I don't think it would be accurate for me to stand
here and say we are embarrassed.
"A mistake happened while we were trying.... We try
She said the interpreter had been overwhelmed, and had
trouble translating from Xhosa to English to sign language.
Xhosa was his first language, and there should have been
a second sign language interpreter on stage as directed by regulations.
She said the company for which he worked, SA
Interpreters, was found after the memorial to have provided sub-standard sign
language services for some time.
"It appears that they had been cheating all
along," said Bogopane-Zulu.
The company had been charging the interpreter's services
at R800 a day, when normally a sign language interpreter charged between R1 300
to R1 700 an hour.
Regarding who procured the company and the interpreter's
services, the deputy minister repeated Minister in the Presidency Collins
Chabane's statement on Wednesday that the various government departments involved
in Tuesday's memorial were finalising what happened.
Bogopane-Zulu said Wednesday was the first time she had
received complaints about the interpreter.
Deaf organisations have claimed that they first raised
concerns about him some time ago.
Jantjie was metres away from the likes of President Jacob
Zuma, US President Barack Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro, and Mandela's
widow Graça Machel during proceedings at Mandela's memorial at FNB Stadium, in
Johannesburg, on Tuesday.
The Cape Times reported earlier on Thursday that Jantjies
said he had suffered a schizophrenic episode during the memorial.
He told the newspaper that he did not know whether it was
the importance of the event or the happiness he felt on the day which triggered
Jantjies, who uses medication for schizophrenia, claimed
that during the proceedings he lost concentration and began hallucinating.
He later apologised for his actions and said he "was
alone in a dangerous situation" and there was nothing he could do.