They sure did a bang-up job of vetting this guy, huh?
The schizophrenic South African sign language interpreter who said he hallucinated during Nelson Mandela’s memorial on Tuesday reportedly has an extensive criminal record, including murder, rape and kidnapping charges.
According to South African news network eNCA, Thamsanqa Jantjie has “faced rape (1994), theft (1995), housebreaking (1997), malicious damage to property (1998), murder, attempted murder and kidnapping (2003) charges.”
Despite his record, the station said it was not clear whether Jantjie has ever served time in prison, as “many of the charges brought against him were dropped, allegedly because he was mentally unfit to stand trial.”
Even more bizarrely, it was not clear whether the murder charge against Jantjie from 2003 was ever properly resolved because the court file against him is “mysteriously empty,” eNCA reported.
Jantjie, who told the press on Thursday that he suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past, stood next to US President Barack Obama and other world leaders and dignitaries during the ceremony honoring the late South African president and civil rights leader in Johannesburg.
His extensive reported criminal background raises additional questions about the security protocols in place at Mandela’s memorial that permitted Jantjie to stand feet from such high profile persons.
This guy was just one of many fiascos involved with the Mandela memorial.
“I was shocked at the apparent lack of any real security measures, precautions or deterrents,” said reporter Scott Thuman of WJLA, a Washington TV station affiliated with POLITICO. “We entered the stadium along with a steady but manageable crowd of people through the main gates which were completely unattended. There were no workers performing bag checks or patdowns — there were no magnetometers to walk through, no metal detector wands being used — anywhere.”
Thuman said some people may have gone through security checks, but none were evident at the main entrance just before and during the speeches delivered by Obama and other world leaders.
Some analysts said Thursday that the security arrangements — ultimately the responsibility of the South African authorities, sounded so chaotic and haphazard that Obama should not have attended.
“You had a deadly cocktail here of a compressed security advance schedule and a security force that was clearly overwhelmed with the influx of political leaders and emotions surrounding the event,” said Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who served on President George W. Bush’s protective detail. “I really don’t think the president should be going to these sorts of events unless there’s some guarantee that the domestic security force has a plan that’s operational and workable.”
“That’s a scandal and it is up to the Secret Service to make sure that the local authorities do their jobs, which absolutely should include magnetometer screening,” said Ron Kessler, author of “In the President’s Secret Service.” “If they don’t, the Secret Service should just say do it or the president will not be there. It’s simply not worth taking a chance.”