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Sign language interpreter at Mandela memorial called "fake"
FOX NEWS -- A man who stood close to President Barack Obama and other heads of state while providing sign language interpretation at Nelson Mandelas memorial Tuesday was a fake who was making up his own gestures, sign language experts say, raising questions about the security at the event.
"[He] was moving his hands around, but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for," Bruno Druchen, the Deaf Federation of South Africas national director, told The Associated Press Wednesday.
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The countrys deaf community and the ruling African National Congress have no knowledge of who the man actually is, despite him appearing on television gesticulating alongside South African President Jacob Zuma last year, Reuters reported. Zumas office is trying to figure out the man's identity.
"I don't know this guy. He doesn't work for the ANC. It was a government event. Ask them," ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.
U.S. Secret Service Spokesman Brian Leary told FoxNews.com on Wednesday that the department is aware of the matter, but declined to elaborate.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said during a press briefing that he wasn't aware of any security concerns with the man being near Obama.
"I think my only reaction to that is that it's a shame that you had a service that was dedicated to honoring the life and celebrating the legacy of one of the great leaders of the 20th century, [and it] has gotten distracted by this and a few other issues that are far less important than the legacy of Nelson Mandela," he said.
Druchen and three other sign language experts said the man was not signing in South African or American sign languages and could not have been signing in any other known sign language because there was no structure to his arm and hand movements. South African sign language covers all of the country's 11 official languages, according to the federation.