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Sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela memorial a ‘fake,’ South African officials say

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sign language fraud

Officials say the unidentified man was moving his hands around, but there was no meaning to anything he was signing.

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa says a man who provided sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was a “fake.” Asked about the claim by The Associated Press, South Africa’s government said it is preparing a statement.

Bruno Druchen says the unidentified man seen around the world on television next to leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama “was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for.”

South African parliament member Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, a member of the ruling party who is deaf and who is married to Druchen, also said the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movements. AP interviewed both Druchen, who also is deaf, and Newhoudt-Druchen by telephone using an interpreter.