Violent Past includes charges for rape,
THAMSANQA JANTJIE, the fake sign language interpreter who showed up at the Mandela Memorial and pretended to be dishing out sign language to an international audience watching via satellite, is a compelling if not completely bizarre, story.
It turns out that JANTJIE is not just a schizophrenia sufferer, but he’s a violent one as well.
And not just murder.
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.
But let’s put aside his past for a moment and look at JANTJIE’s present troubles.
Apparently, this was not the first time the gentlemen tried to make it big in sign language without actually possessing the necessary skills.
A “fake” sign language interpreter who claimed to suffer an on-stage schizophrenic episode during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service failed to communicate a single word of a speech made by South African President Jacob Zuma more than a year ago.
More than a year ago.
One would have thought that that bit of resume-building on the part of THAMSANQA JANTJIE would have alerted the authorities. But no, THAMSANQA was at the podium nevertheless.
It was reported that the Mandela memorial was organized by the South African government and that JANTJIE had been employed by the African National Congress on at least two previous occasions without incident.
Since it doesn’t appear that JANTJIE knows sign language–at least any organized system of known sign language–that means that on at least two occasions, anyone who was paying attention to JANTJIE was treated to two handfuls of gibberish.
And yet, there he was: failing to perform on a worldwide stage. JANTJIE ought to be the poster child for the Peter Principle: Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.
But THAMSNQA wasn’t without his reasons for his epic letdown. He told the Johannesburg’s Star newspaper that he suffered from schizophrenia which overwhelmed him while on stage.
Apparently, he “started hearing voices and hallucinating while on stage.”
Jantjie explained how the condition has affected him: “I see angels come to the stadium. Sometimes I will react violently on that place. Sometimes I will see things chasing me. You know, I was in a very very difficult position,” he said.
South Africa’s leading deaf association has pronounced JANTJIE a “fake.” The South African government has admitted that JANTJIE has no professional credentials. As JANTJIE declares that he is a “champion” at sign language, apparently the self-esteem movement is active in South Africa.
So what now? JANTJIE’s future now seems as unsettled as his past.
One man’s take:
Leaving aside the insult to the deaf, however, you have to admire him. Though he has apparently performed this function for the ANC before – could it be that there is something they don’t want the deaf to know? – it still takes courage to appear before the world quite so ill-equipped for what you are employed to do.
So it appears that everyone will have a good laugh–except for the deaf folks–and forget about the whole thing. The news cycle will roll on down the road another 48 hours and the world will largely forget about THAMSANQA JANTJIE.
And that seems to be the state of the world today.
No matter what field–politics, finance, sign language–we’re treated to a never-ending parade of those failing to do their jobs and then claiming incompetence or schizophrenia or something.
Whatever it is, they just can’t do their jobs. And they always have a reason why they can’t do their jobs.
They never run out of reasons.
Which brings us to the saddest realization of all.
We are now living in a world without consequences, especially for those at the top of the food chain–or even for those who are signing for the top of the food chain.
It doesn’t matter if it’s BARACK OBAMA, JOHN BOEHNER, PAUL RYAN.
Or THAMSANQA JANTJIE.
by Mondo Frazier
IMAGE: David Castillo Domenici, FreeDigitalPhotos.net