Mandela service interpreter for deaf accused of faking it

8:40 AM, Dec 11, 2013   |    comments
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  • President Obama looks down as he stands next to sign language interpreter as he makes speech at memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013. South Africa's deaf federation says the interpreter on stage for the memorial was a "fake" (AP)
  • President Obama waves standing next to the sign language interpreter afters speaking at the service for former South African president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Dec. 10. (Photo: Matt Dunham, AP)

JOHANNESBURG (CBS/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 such as President Obama "was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for."

Delphin Hlungwane, of the Deaf Association of South Africa, tells CBS News the interpreter isn't registered with the association or the South African Translator's Institute.

South African parliament member Wilma Newhoudt, a member of the ruling party, also said the man communicated nothing with his hand and arm movements.

She tweeted, "Shame on this male so called interpreter on the stage. What is he signing? He knows that the deaf cannot vocally boo him off. Shame on him!"

Both Druchen and Newhoudt are deaf. The AP interviewed both Druchen and Newhoudt by telephone using an interpreter.

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