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.


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