Sign language interpreter at Mandela memorial says he has schizophrenia and was hallucinating

Official: 'Mistake happened' in hiring process

JOHANNESBURG - The man accused of faking sign-language while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said Thursday that he has schizophrenia and was hallucinating on stage.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that he saw "angels" while he was interpreting at the event and that he tried not to panic because there were "armed policemen around me."

He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year and has been violent in the past.

A South Africanan deputy Cabinet minister said "a mistake happened" in the hiring process.

Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said Thursday that government officials have tried to track down the company that provided Thamsanqa Jantjie but that the co-owners "have vanished into thin air."

Bogopane-Zulu apologized to deaf people offended around the world by what they say was Jantjie's incomprehensible signing.

She says an investigation is under way to determine how Jantjie received a security clearance.

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