A South African sign language interpreter accused of making up his own signs during a memorial to Nelson Mandela has faced charges for murder, rape and kidnapping, it was claimed today.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, 34, stood just a few feet from from President Obama and others who spoke at Tuesday?s ceremony that was broadcast around the world.

South African news website eNCA reported that Mr Jantjie, who has schizophrenia, has faced charges for rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges.

The website said it was unclear if the 2003 murder case was ever concluded as the court file was found to be empty during their investigations.

It also reported that many of the charges brought against him were dropped, allegedly because he was mentally unfit to stand trial.

Mr Jantjie was acquitted on the rape charge, but he was convicted of theft for which he was sentenced to three years in prison. The channel could not ascertain if he served the jail time.

MailOnline has contacted the NPA for a comment on the claims.

Mr Jantjie was today approached by a reporter for the Associated press who asked him about the criminal charges, but he refused to comment.

The news is a further embarrassment to South African officials at it was revealed that Mr Jantjie had faked sign language at the memorial event.

Yesterday Mr Jantjie revealed he may have suffered a schizophrenic episode on stage after claiming he saw ?angels? at the event.

He said that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were ?armed policemen around me.?

He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year.

He said he worked for a company called SA Interpreters which had been hired by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) for Tuesday?s ceremony at Johannesburg?s 95,000-seat Soccer City stadium.

He said he was paid 85 dollars (?52) for interpreting the event.

But he also apologized for his performance that has been dismissed by many sign-language experts as gibberish.

?I would like to tell everybody that if I?ve offended anyone, please, forgive me,? Mr Jantjie said in his concrete home in a low-income Johannesburg neighborhood

?But what I was doing, I was doing what I believe is my calling, I was doing what I believe makes a difference.?

?What happened that day, I see angels come to the stadium ? I start realizing that the problem is here. And the problem, I don?t know the attack of this problem, how will it comes. Sometimes I react violent on that place. Sometimes I will see things that chase me,? Mr Jantjie said. 

?I was in a very difficult position,? he added.

?And remember those people, the president and everyone, they were armed, there was armed police around me. If I start panicking I?ll start being a problem. I have to deal with this in a manner so that I mustn?t embarrass my country.?

Asked how often he had become violent, he said ?a lot? while declining to provide details.

Mr Jantjie said he was due on the day of the ceremony to get a regular six-month mental health checkup to determine whether the medication he takes was working, whether it needed to be changed or whether he needed to be kept at a mental health facility for treatment.



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