Bogus interpreter ‘was involved in necklace killing’

The bogus sign language interpreter at the Nelson Mandela memorial service has been accused of being part of a gang who burned two men to death.

Thamsanqa Jantjie was among a group who found the men with a stolen TV and burned them to death in 2003, a relative and three friends claimed. They said tyres were placed around the men’s necks and set ablaze in a so-called “necklace” killing.

Unlike two other suspects who went to trial in 2006 for the killings, they said Jantjie never did because he was determined mentally unfit.

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The men, including one of Jantjie’s cousins, insisted on anonymity because of sensitivity surrounding the bogus signing, which embarrassed South Africa’s government. They say Jantjie was institutionalised and then returned to his neighbourhood on the outskirts of Soweto.

After that he began sign language interpretation at events for the governing African National Congress Party.

Jantjie said he has schizophrenia and hallucinated, seeing angels while gesturing incoherently just feet away from President Barack Obama and other world leaders during the Mandela ceremony. Experts said his arm and hand movements were mere gibberish.

Jantjie has admitted being violent in the past “a lot” but declined to provide more details and blamed his violence on his schizophrenia, for which he said he has been institutionalised in the past.