“What…?” Kleinpiet is back for a beer. This time the subject under discussion is so strange that even he doesn’t want to walk out on it.
“No, it’s true. That man made all kinds of gestures, but he didn’t tell the deaf people what was happening – or what was being said.” Gertruida – who knows everything – spotted the problem immediately. At the time she remarked that it must be the New South African version of sign language, but now she knows better. “Nobody could follow him. Not in South Africa, Not overseas. It’s a disgrace.”
“Ja, Kleinpiet, it’s true. And Gertruida told us while you were out: the government knew that he couldn’t do the interpretation. As early as 2012 a complaint was sent to the ANC about the man’s abilities. That was also when he had to convert a speech by President Zuma into sign language. So the government knew…”
“You mean to tell me they used a man with no accreditation from official bodies to do something they knew he couldn’t do – and yet gave him security clearance to stand a yard away from the most powerful leaders in the world?”
“Indeed. And remember: this was to honour Madiba – and to tell the world about him. The memorial was supposed to show the world we cared. Supposed to be a showcase of our ability to organise things.”
Vetfaan sighs…this is depressing. Maybe, he thinks, the whole memorial event was such a big affair. Maybe they scrambled to get an interpreter at the last moment. Maybe this poor court interpreter was the best available. And maybe…
“They’ll fix it, I’m sure,” he says.
Servaas nods. Like they’ll fix Nkandla, the e-Tolls, the Arms Deal. They’ll always fix it. Like the old government fixed the Helderberg and Salem stories.
And then they’ll tell us nothing…