The man providing sign language interpretations during Nelson Mandela's memorial on Tuesday was a "fake," according to the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa and at least two other experts.
The interpreter, who stood next to President Obama and other world leaders as they delivered their speeches, was "moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for," Bruno Druchen, the federation's director, told the Associated Press.
Please get RID of this CLOWN interpreter,please! pic.twitter.com/ziAZ4KBFNZ
— Bruno Peter Druchen (@BrunoDruchen) December 10, 2013
Two other sign language experts—including Druchen's wife, South African parliament member Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, who is deaf— told the AP that the unidentified man was signing non-sense.
— wilma newhoudt (@newhoudt) December 11, 2013
"It was horrible, an absolute circus, really, really bad," Nicole Du Toit, an official sign language interpreter, said. "Only he can understand those gestures."
Other deaf South Africans took to Twitter to protest the alleged sign language scam artist.
— Robert F Rourke (@GeminiOxBob) December 11, 2013
Making the whole thing more bizarre: This reportedly isn't the first time the interpreter has worked at African National Congress events.
The South African government told the AP it's preparing a statement on the scandal. Below, a video compares the fake interpreter's gestures against a real sign language interpreter's translation of the event.
UPDATE: The interpreter claims he was hallucinating during the ceremony.
[Image via AP]