WATCH: Deaf Hollywood actress shocked by ‘fake’ interpreter

In this picture taken on December 10, 2013 US President Barack Obama delivers a speech next to a sign language interpreter (R) during the memorial service for late South African President Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg. South Africa's deaf community on December 11, 2013 accused the sign language interpreter at the memorial of being a fake, who had merely flapped his arms around during speeches. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER JOE

Oscar-winning deaf actress Marlee Matlin believes the Mandela memorial interpreter was not at all authentic.

Known for her role in the series Switched at Birth, Matlin told CNN that she initially was happy to see an interpreter at the Mandela memorial.

“I looked at him a little bit longer and I kept thinking, this is hard, I’ve been to South Africa before and I can understand some South African sign language… it was almost like he was doing baseball signs. I was appalled.”

Matlin said she knew that at any moment there would be an ‘explosion’ about it and that it was clear from his lack of facial expression he didn’t know sign language.

Sign Language Education and Development in Cape Town director Cara Loening has said the interpreter is a ‘utter fraud’ and said not one of his signs had anything to do with sign language.

“It was like getting somebody off the street and telling them to flap their hands around,” said Loening. “This man made a mockery of the service. How disrespectful for what Madiba stood for.”

Government has said it is looking into the matter, however Thamsanqa Jantjies told the Cape Times  he suffered a schizophrenic episode and claims he lost concentration, started hearing voices and began hallucinating.

He later apologised for his actions saying he was ‘alone in a dangerous situation’ and that there was nothing he could do.

today in print

today in print