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Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher's controversial opposition to tougher sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa prevented a "race war" from breaking out, South African ex-president FW de Klerk claimed on Friday. Writing in the Times, de Klerk argued that the handing over of power to the African National Congress (ANC) in the 1980s would have resulted in fighting and "the imposition of a communist regime" by the party's left wing. "Margaret Thatcher understood this," he wrote. Thatcher, who died in April aged 87, has come under fire for her resistance to tougher penalties on the South Africa regime during the 1980s, and faced accusations it was a selfish move to protect Britain's business interests.
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.
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial says he suffers from schizophrenia and hallucinated and saw angels while gesturing incoherently just 3 feet away from President Barack Obama and other world leaders, outraging deaf people worldwide who said his signs amounted to gibberish.