Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Nelson Mandela: Sign language interpreter at memorial event was 'fake' who 'made up his own signs'

The sign language interpreter used by the African National Congress during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service at Johannesburg FNB football stadium yesterday was a fake, it has been claimed today.

Bruno Druchen, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said the unnamed man seen on television next to leaders such as US President Barack Obama "was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for."

Braam Jordaan, a deaf South African and board member of the World Deaf Federation, also said he believed the interpreter was making up his own signs as he went along.

He joins others who have taken to Twitter to claim the interpreter was not using a recognised South African sign language.

Mr Jordaan told the SBS news website: "I was really upset and humiliated. He made up his own signs.

"What happened at the memorial service is truly disgraceful thing to see - it should not happen at all.

"What happened today will be forever aligned with Nelson Mandela & Deaf Community, thanks to this fake interpreter."

Sheena Walters, a representative of the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters echoed his concerns and said the sign language used was not recognisable as an accepted form of South African sign language.

She told the website: “It seems quite obvious that the interpreter isn’t using South African sign language.

“Most sign languages across the world share a similar structure and pattern and this person seems to be making a lot of repetitive signs and isn’t displaying the usual facial expression or structure of sign language that you would normally see.”

South African Sign Language interpreter Francois Deysel said the interpreter was "making a mockery of our profession" in a tweet .

Wilma Newhoult, a deaf member of the South African Parliament and Vice President of the World Federation of the Deaf tweeted it was a "shame" and "caused embarrassment across deaf ANC supporters".

UK based deaf news blog the Limping Chicken said he signed with a "strange repetitive rhythm to his movements", and "the structure of his hand and body movements didn't seem to change no matter what the speaker was saying".

The Government has said it is aware of complaints and will respond soon, according to Eyewitness News. The Deaf Federation of South Africa has said it is in the process of preparing a statement