Interpreter marred Mandela memorial – Sanda

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

“The charlatan has infuriated the deaf community in South Africa and the world,” the SA National Deaf Association (Sanda) and Disabled People South Africa (DPSA) said. They said in a statement he did a huge disservice to the sign language interpreter profession. “This incident has highlighted the poignant reality of the situation of deaf people […]

“The charlatan has infuriated the deaf community in South Africa and the world,” the SA National Deaf Association (Sanda) and Disabled People South Africa (DPSA) said.

They said in a statement he did a huge disservice to the sign language interpreter profession.

“This incident has highlighted the poignant reality of the situation of deaf people and the chasm between policy and practices in South Africa.”

The interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, was metres away from President Jacob Zuma, US President Barack Obama, Cuban President Raul Castro, and Mandela’s widow Graca Machel during proceedings at Mandela’s memorial service at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Sanda and DPSA said the laissez-faire attitude towards sign language interpreting as a profession and the lack of development of South African sign language in general was a manifestation of policy neglect and government dithering.

“It cannot be that just anyone with basic knowledge of the alphabet or an enterprising charlatan like the fake one can become a sign language interpreter overnight without proper accreditation procedures befitting any profession,” they said.

“At present, deaf people, as users of service, have no recourses to reporting complaints they may experience with sign language interpreters in general and the profession in particular.”

The FNB Stadium incident exposed the need for a regulatory mechanism to regulate accreditation processes for the profession.

“Nelson Mandela bequeathed us with firm and empowering fundamental values of human rights, human dignity and human justice. We need to tirelessly fight for, promote and safeguard these values,” the two organisations said.

“Let this be the fitting apology to deaf people and a lasting tribute to Nelson Mandela and the country for this embarrassment of international proportions.”

“The organisers should apologise to the deaf community and the people of South Africa,” Sanda and DPSA said.

Sapa




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