12 Dec 2013

Mandela memorial interpreter seen as a fake

9:01 am on 12 December 2013

The memorial service for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday was marred by complaints the sign language interpreter was 'a fake who merely flapped his arms around during speeches.

South Africa's first black president is now lying in state in Pretoria.

Tens of thousands of mourners gathered with world leaders at a stadium in Soweto to pay their respects, but the Sign Language Education and Development organisation said the interpreter was a complete fraud.

SLED director Cara Loening said the interpreter, who translated US President Barack Obama's speech, looked as if he was "trying to swat a few flies away from his face and his head".

The City Press newspaper also claims state broadcaster SABC instructed its production staff to cut away from live footage of President Jacob Zuma, as he was being booed.

Burglars broke into the home of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu in Cape Town while he was speaking at the memorial in Soweto.

An aide said some items were taken.