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Mandela memorial interpreter convicted of theft

Sapa

The interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service has been convicted of theft and once had a string of criminal charges laid against him.

Interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie. (Reuters)

The interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service has been convicted of theft and once had a string of criminal charges, including murder, laid against him, eNCA reported on Friday.

The television news station reported that a murder, attempted murder and kidnapping case from 2003, against Thamsanqa Jantjie and two other men, was referred to the high court in Johannesburg in 2004, and was finalised in November 2006.

However the outcome was unknown as the court file for the case was found empty by eNCA reporters. Using court and police records, eNCA established that Jantjie was convicted of theft in 1995, and is recorded to have received a three-year sentence.

He was charged with housebreaking in July 1997 and malicious damage to property in April 1998. Jantjie was also charged with rape in September 1994, but was later acquitted.

Jantjie was metres away from the likes of South African President Jacob Zuma, US President Barack Obama, Cuban President Raúl Castro, and Mandela's widow Graça Machel​, during proceedings at Mandela's memorial at FNB Stadium, in Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

Jantjie has reportedly said he had suffered a schizophrenic episode during the memorial, in which the signs he made were dismissed as gibberish by the deaf community. – Sapa

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