The accused fraudulent sign language interpreter who stood just inches away from President Barack Obama and other world leaders during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela has reportedly faced murder, rape and kidnapping charges.
South African TV news outlet eNCA reported Friday that Thamsanqa Jantjie has faced multiple violent charges in the last two decades, including murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, rape, theft, housebreaking and malicious property damage.
The outlet reported that many of the charges against him were dropped “allegedly because he was mentally unfit to stand trial.” Jantjie said he suffers from schizophrenia and saw “angels” at Tuesday’s memorial after deaf people charged that he was signing gibberish.
According to eNCA, Jantjie was acquitted of the rape charge but convicted of theft and sentenced to three years in prison, though it’s unclear whether he actually spent time in jail.
The outlet also reported that the court file for the 2003 murder, attempted murder and kidnapping case against Jantjie was mysteriously empty and it was unclear whether or how the case had concluded.
According to the Associated Press, the South African government said Friday it’s aware of reports about the murder charge and is investigating Jantjie and how he ended up standing onstage at the memorial.
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