Receive Breaking News updates as they occur
Nelson Mandela was reclaimed by ordinary South Africans who queued in huge numbers under the hot sun Thursday to file past his open casket on a day reserved for the public. As Mandela lay in state for a second day, a row deepened over a sign language interpreter at his memorial service, who responded to charges he was a fraud by insisting that a schizophrenic episode had caused him to gesticulate nonsensically. The long lines were reminiscent of the snaking queues of voters who waited to cast their first ballots in a democratic South Africa in 1994.
The South African government admitted it made a "mistake" in choosing a sign language interpreter for Nelson Mandela's memorial who was later exposed as a fake by experts, and who claimed to be schizophrenic. Experts said Thamsanqa Jantjie's signing in front of US President Barack Obama and other world leaders amounted to little more than "flapping his arms around," prompting an apology from the government. Admitting Jantjie was "not a professional sign language interpreter," junior minister for disabilities Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said that "we can only apologise to the deaf community". Jantjie insists he is qualified and a "champion of sign language," but said his behaviour was down to a sudden attack of schizophrenia, for which he takes medication.