Oh, that fake sign language interpreter? He's got some "history"

There have been plenty of people having fun at the expense of the little mix-up at the Mandela ceremonies when the sign language interpreter seemed to be a bit less than authentic. Jimmy Kimmel brought on a real interpreter who attempted to translate what the guy was signing and it turned out to be complete gibberish. The imposter later claimed to have been having a schizophrenic episode where he was seeing angels in the stadium, but people didn’t seem to be buying the story.

But hey… it was all in good fun, right? Wasn’t he probably just the South African version of Howard Stern’s baba booey, generating some laughs at the expense of the high and mighty? Not so fast. As Mark Steyn points out this week, the man has a bit darker past than just some wannabe comic.

eNCA’s investigations have found that Thamsanqa Jantjie, who is being treated for schizophrenia, has also faced rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges.

What exactly do all those security guys in the Presidential motorcade do?

It should be noted that the man was cleared of the attempted murder and kidnapping charges and some other were “dropped” under less than clear circumstances. But that sort of background is – and should be – disturbing, particularly when coupled with his own claims of mental illness.

Jantjie spent roughly four hours on stage, standing only feet from not only Obama, but a huge collection of leaders from around the globe. That really says something for the South African government’s efficiency and ability to pull off the required security for an event of that magnitude. For that matter, it makes one wonder how on-the-ball they are for any visit from foreign dignitaries on a year to year basis. But additional questions remain regarding the President’s security detail as well

It’s easy enough to have some sympathy for the Secret Service in this instance I suppose. While Mandela had been ill for some time, the announcement of his demise still came out of the blue and everyone was scrambling to arrange hasty travel plans for what they knew would be a massively crowded extravaganza in chaotic circumstances. But that’s what these guys get paid for. If they couldn’t get all of the required information to assure that the Commander in Chief would be safe, they should have either pushed to cancel the trip entirely or moved the boss to a more easily secured location for his portion of the proceedings. After the scandals with hookers and the rest of their woes, the agency didn’t need another bruise on their reputation like this.

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