The sign language interpreter used during Nelson Mandela’s memorial service at Johannesburg FNB football stadium yesterday was a fraud, it has been confirmed.
South Africa's deaf federation has said that the man using sign language during the Mandela memorial was a "fake".
The man at the memorial, attended by scores of heads of state, was simply "making childish hand gestures" for hours, David Buxton, the CEO of the British Deaf Association, said.
Concerns over the male interpreter had been raised by deaf people watching the service on Tuesday.
Bruno Druchen, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said the unnamed man seen on television next to leaders such as US President Barack Obama "was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for."
He took to Twitter to vent his frustrations:
@nortikiwi he is not using sign language at all..i am Deaf person and I couldn't understand him— Bruno Peter Druchen (@BrunoDruchen) December 11, 2013
— Bruno Peter Druchen (@BrunoDruchen) December 11, 2013ADVERTISEMENT
South African parliament member Wilma Newhoudt, a member of the ruling party and who is also deaf, added the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movement, Sky News reported.
Braam Jordaan, a deaf South African and board member of the World Deaf Federation, also said he believed the interpreter was creating his own signs as he went along.
Mr Jordaan told the SBS news website: "I was really upset and humiliated. 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."
Three sign language experts said the man was not signing in South African or American sign languages.
Nicole Du Toit, an official sign language interpreter who also watched the broadcast, said the man on stage was an "embarrassment".
She said: "It was horrible, an absolute circus, really really bad.
"Only he can understand those gestures."
Delphin Hlungwane, an official South African sign language interpreter with DeafSA, said authorities were trying to track the man down.
She said: "There was zero percent accuracy. He couldn't even get the basics right. He couldn't even say thank you.
"You're supposed to indicate with your facial expressions, even if it's not an exact sign. He didn't indicate that (booing of Jacob Zuma) at all. It just passed him by.
"Nobody knows who he is. Even at this hour we still don't have his name."