Sign of the times: Mandela event interpreter was ‘fake’

 US president Barack Obama delivers a speech next to a sign language interpreter  during the memorial service for late South African president Nelson Mandela. Experts accused the signer of being a 'fake' and a 'fraud'. Picture: Getty

A man who appeared to provide sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was a “fake”, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said.

South Africa’s deaf community accused the interpreter of being a fake, who had merely flapped his arms during speeches.

“He’s a complete fraud,” said Cara Loening, director of Sign Language Education and Development in Cape Town.

The interpreter, who translated US president Barack Obama’s speech, looked as if he was “trying to swat a few flies away from his face and his head”.

“The deaf community in South Africa are completely outraged and nobody knows who he is,” said Loening.

The scandal over the interpreter is another indication of bad organisation of the historic memorial service at a huge soccer stadium on Tuesday.


Much has been said about the perils of being stuck in the house 24/7, like family pets interrupting your important conference calls, your partner leaving their dirty dishes everywhere and the lack of respite from the kids.Silver lining: Seven enforced money-saving habits you might want to continue after lockdown

Put you and your loved ones' pop-culture knowledge to the test with Arts Editor Des O'Driscoll's three fiendishly fun quiz rounds.Scene and Heard: the Arts Ed's family entertainment quiz

A passion for heritage and the discovery of some nifty new software has resulted in an Irish architect putting colour on thousands of old photographs, writes Marjorie BrennanBringing the past to life

Richard Hogan, family psychotherapist, addresses a reader's question about life during lockdownHolding on: how to help your child through the crisis

More From The Irish Examiner