Anyone else catch the kerfuffle going on about the person interpreting speeches for the Deaf Community at Nelson Mandela’s funeral?
But Bruno Druchen, the Deaf Federation of South Africa’s national director, and three other sign language experts said Jantjie was not signing in South African or American sign languages and could not have been signing in any other known sign language because there was no structure to his arm and hand movements. South African sign language covers all of the country’s 11 official languages, according to the federation.
“He didn’t follow any of the grammatical rules and structure of the language. He just invented his signs as he went along,” Delphin Hlungwane, an official South African sign language interpreter at DeafSA, told Reuters.
Now my issue isn’t with the fact he may or may not know Sign Language. Nope — this is an great example of the futility of ‘back ground checks’ and mental illness.
Consider the fact the man was standing on stage with a large number of world leaders; feet away from President Obama……you’d think everyone would know most of the details about this man’s life and career, right?
A South African deputy Cabinet minister said “a mistake happened” when Jantjie was hired for the event.
Deputy Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said Thursday that government officials have tried to track down the company that provided Jantjie, SA Interpreters, but that its co-owners “have vanished into thin air.”
AP journalists who visited the address of the company that Jantjie provided found a different company there, whose managers said they knew nothing about SA Interpreters. A woman answered the phone at a number that Jantjie provided and said it was not for the company, and another phone number went to a voicemail that did not identify the person or company with the number.
Yeah….so much for background checks being able to ferret out if people really are who they say they are. I understand this is South Africa and the Secret Service had to depend on that countries agencies but do you really think they didn’t check out everyone on that stage?
but did apologize for his performance and admitted he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than a year.
Have to wonder how the Secret Service (and just about every other security agency) missed a little detail like that. There is a conflict between privacy concerns and being able to investigate people in security situations. I tend to favor privacy over the investigation for day to day exercise of our rights. However, in a high security situation like this; the person wanting to be a part of it voluntarily consents to a much greater scrutiny. This is something that simply should not have been missed; different country or not.
And it isn’t just limited to an important detail about the actual company he works for either — luckily this person didn’t have nefarious intentions on anyone’s life.
A man being criticized by sign language experts for providing fake interpretations while standing close to President Obama and other heads of state at Nelson Mandela’s memorial says he becomes violent “a lot” and was hallucinating during the event.
Thamsanqa Jantjie did not describe his qualifications for being a sign language interpreter, but told The Star he works for an interpreting company that paid him $85 for interpreting Tuesday’s event, according to The Associated Press. He told Radio 702 on Thursday he’s receiving treatment for schizophrenia and had an episode while on stage at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
“What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium … I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don’t know the attack of this problem, how will it come. Sometimes I get violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things chasing me,” Jantjie said in an interview with The Associated Press, describing his hallucinations.
Receiving treatment for schizophrenia and supposedly had a break with reality during the event — feet away from world leaders — and no one noticed during it. This really illustrates the difficulty in first diagnosing, treating and most importantly identifying those with mental illnesses folks. We had a person supposedly having a psychotic break with reality in front of the WORLD and he wasn’t rushed off stage immediately. Imagine how hard it would be to determine if someone was mentally ill as they go through a job interview or purchase a firearm.
It also illustrates the futility of trying to classify everyone as dangerous just because they have a mental illness; even in the supposed midst of a psychotic break he did no harm. In America about 1 person in 4 has a diagnosable mental illness and about 1.1% suffer from schizophrenia. Yet — consider how few people are actually harmed in relation to those numbers.
This is a complex issue; one not easily solved by bumper sticker slogans of “mandatory background checks” — if we really want to reduce the number of school shootings or other mass murder events; this is where the conversation really needs to take place.
Please join the discussion.