Interpreter at Nelson Mandela memorial Thamsanqa Jantije ‘admitted to psychiatric hospital following possible mental breakdown’

Local media quoted his wife saying she took him to a hospital because ‘he might have had a breakdown’

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The Independent Online

The interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service has been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, according to local media reports.

Johannesburg’s Star newspaper said Thamsanqa Jantije's family took him to a hospital on Tuesday and it was suggested he be immediately admitted for care.

Mr Jantije's wife Siziwe is quoted as saying: "he might have had a breakdown", adding that he had found "the past few days very hard".

Sign language experts have accused Mr Jantije of making up bizarre gestures and referring to prawns and rocking horses while translating eulogies at Mr Mandela’s memorial service last week.

Mr Jantije insisted he was a fully qualified interpreter and his behaviour was down to a sudden "schizophrenic episode" adding that he had seen angels entering the stadium during the service.

It is believed that Mr Jantije had been due to attend a mental health check-up on the day of the memorial, but postponed it in order to attend.

Earlier, South Africa's Deputy Disability Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu revealed that the company who employed Mr Jantije had since "vanished".

The news comes as the White House sought to play down the security risk Mr Jantije might have played as he stood alongside Barack Obama during an emotive speech in which the US president played tribute to Mr Mandela.

Mr Jantije had also signed alongside South African President Jacob Zuma and a number of Mr Mandela’s grandchildren.

South Africa's ruling ANC party later issued a statement saying Mr Jantije had been used as an interpreter on a number of previous occasions and they "had not been aware of any complaints regarding the quality of services, qualifications or reported illnesses".