Bogus Mandela Interpreter Helped Burn Two Men Alive

Thamsanga Jantijie describes incident as 'mob justice'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2013 7:55 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2013 7:59 AM CST
Bogus Mandela Interpreter Helped Burn Two Men Alive
Thamsanqa Jantjie gestures at his home during an interview with the Associated Press in Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Thamsanqa Jantjie has done things a lot worse than making up sign language—including burning two men alive, one of his relatives and three of his friends tell the AP. We already knew that Jantjie had murder charges on his resume, but now we know the specifics: Apparently Jantjie was amongst a group of people who accosted two men they'd caught with a stolen television in 2003. The mob put tires around the suspected thieves' necks and set the tires on fire, killing them—a common apartheid-era execution technique known as "necklacing."

Other men involved in the killings were put on trial in 2006, but Jantjie was deemed mentally unfit, and was instead institutionalized for a little more than a year. Jantjie himself described the incident in an interview in the Sunday Times of Johannesburg. "It was a community thing, what you call mob justice, and I was also there," he said. On Saturday, he denied some other accusations against him in a USA Today interview, saying, "I never raped anybody ... I've never [done] ... all those things that they talked about." It was after his mental hospital stint that Jantjie started getting signing gigs for the African National Congress. He says he studied signing for a year, but the AP wasn't able to locate any evidence of the school he named. There is likewise no sign of the owners of the interpretation company he says hired him for the Mandela event; government officials say they have disappeared. (More Thamsanqa Jantjie stories.)

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