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Deaf Outraged Over Fake Sign Language Interpreter At Mandela Memorial

WATCH: The Deaf community angry over what they say was a fake sign language interpreter used at Mandela's memorial.


JOHANNESBURG -- 'Fake' Mandela memorial sign language interpreter incites anger. It was an event the whole world was watching, but some Deaf people couldn't understand a word spoken at Mandela’s memorial and took to Twitter to vent their frustration.

Allegations have been made that the sign language interpreter used at the memorial may have been unqualified.


Braam Jordaan, a Deaf South African citizen and board member of the World Federation of the Deaf Youth Section (WDFYS), told SBS he believes the interpreter is a fake.

"The structure of his hand, facial expressions and the body movements did not follow what the speaker was saying," he told SBS via email.

Mr Jordaan says the interpreter, who was signing for a portion of the ceremony including Obama's speech, was simply making up his own signs.

"I was really upset and humiliated by the mystery interpreter who was supposed to be signing what Barack Obama, the president of United States of America was saying," he says. "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."

Mr Jordaan says there have been question marks over the same interpretor at previous ANC events.

The Oceania representative for the World Association of Sign Language Interpreters (WASLI), Sheena Walters, also states that the signing used was not recognisable as any accepted form of international or South African sign language.

“It seems quite obvious that the interpreter isn’t using South African sign language,” she told SBS... Read The Full Story.

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