An interpreter who was seen by millions of television viewers worldwide translating Nelson Mandela’s memorial service into sign language was a ‘fake’, according to South Africa’s deaf federation.
The unidentified man, who was broadcast standing alongside world leaders including US President Barack Obama, was making up his own signs, according to the Deaf Federation of South Africa.
With the eyes of the world watching the FNB stadium in Johannesburg, the interpreter was ‘moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for,’ claimed Bruno Druchen, the federation’s national director.
The embarrassing claim comes after yesterday’s ceremony which saw crowds in the third empty stadium boo the country’s president Jacob Zuma.
Three sign language experts said the man was not signing in South African or American sign languages.
South African sign language covers all of the country’s 11 official languages, according to the federation.