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By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African sign language interpreter accused of miming nonsense as world leaders paid tribute to Nelson Mandela defended himself as a "champion" signer on Thursday, but said he suffered a schizophrenic episode during the event. The interpreter, 34-year-old Thamsanqa Jantjie, told Johannesburg's Star newspaper he started hearing voices and hallucinating while on stage, resulting in gestures that made no sense to outraged deaf people around the world. The government admitted Jantjie was not a professional interpreter but played down security concerns at his sharing the podium with world leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama at the memorial on Tuesday. We accept all that." After the memorial, South Africa's leading deaf association denounced him as a fake, making up gestures to be put into the mouths of Obama and his South African counterpart Jacob Zuma.