Mandela Service Interpreter’s “Violent Past” Allegedly Includes Attempted Murder, Rape

eNews Channel Africa reports that “fake” sign-language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie faced criminal charges and may have served time in prison. Jantjie has denied the allegations, yet further details of a criminal past are emerging.

1. Updated – Dec. 16, 8:55 a.m., ET

2. The “fake” sign language interpreter from Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, Thamsanqa Jantjie, said that he suffered from schizophrenia.

Itumeleng English/Associated Press

He claimed that during the memorial he had a schizophrenic attack, and that he was hallucinating during the ceremony.

3. Jantjie also told the Associated Press Thursday that he had a “violent past.”


While he wouldn’t provide the details of his violence, he did say that he would become violent “a lot” and “sometimes I react violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me.”

4. In an interview with USA Today, Thamsanqa Jantjie, the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mendela’s memorial service, denied accusations of rape and murder, and said he hasn’t had a complaint in years.

Iteumelang English / AP

“I’ve never raped anybody … I’ve never [done]… all of those things that they talked about,” said Jantjie.

USA Today reports that during a phone interview, Jantjie deflected questions regarding his alleged crimes, insisting that he only wanted to discuss Mandela’s memorial service on Tuesday.

6. A cousin and friends of Jantjie’s have said he has a criminal past.

BREAKING: Cousin, friends of Mandela event signer say he was in group that burned 2 men to death in 2003.

— The Associated Press (@AP)

7. And last week, eNews Channel Africa reported the details of just how allegedly violent Jantjie’s past was, including a murder charge in 2003.

Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

Jantjie during Mandela’s memorial service.

8. Their report also revealed that he had faced various serious charges, including rape and murder.


Thamsanqa Jantjie, who is being treated for schizophrenia, has also faced rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges.

9. Many of the charges were dropped as Jantjie was reportedly “mentally unfit to stand trial.” He was acquitted from the rape charge in 1994.

#FakeInterpreter Thami Jantjie has criminal conviction for theft from 1995. He was acquitted of rape in 1994. @eNCAnews

— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan)

10. Jantjie was convicted of theft and was apparently sentenced to three years in prison, athough eNCA couldn’t determine whether he actually served his time in jail.


The empty court file concerning 2003 murder, attempted murder and kidnapping case against Jantjie and other people, was referred to the South Gauteng High Court in 2004. It was finalized in November 2006, but as the file is missing, the outcome of the case is indeterminable, according to eNCA.

11. eNCA say their report was complied in just 48 hours, which they say raises serious questions about the security arrangements of the funeral, as Jantjie was only feet away from members of the U.N., and various world leaders.

Reuters TV

12. Jantjie has reportedly refused to comment on what happened to the case.

Jantjie refused to respond to claims he was declared unfit to stand trial on murder because of psychiatric problems. @eNCAnews

— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan)

13. The South African governement has said it made a mistake in hiring Jantjie.


Phumla Williams, of the South African government communications office, said the government is investigating Jantjie.

The White House has not responded to questions about concerns over the safety of President Obama during the memorial service.

Check out more articles on BuzzFeed.com!

More News
Now Buzzing