12/13/2013 08:37 EST | Updated 02/12/2014 05:59 EST

Thamsanqa Jantjie, Interpreter At Mandela Memorial, Was A One-Time Colossal Blunder

President Barack Obama waves standing next to the sign language interpreter after making his speech at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. South Africa's deaf federation said on Wednesday that the interpreter on stage for Mandela memorial was a 'fake', (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
JOHANNESBURG - A South African Cabinet minister is apologizing for the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial who outraged deaf people worldwide by making signs they said amounted to gibberish.

In the highest-ranking apology yet from the government, Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile said Friday reforms must be implemented to ensure such an incident won't happen again.

Mashatile is sticking to the government's refusal to say who was responsible for hiring the sign interpreter for Tuesday's memorial.

Interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie says he has been violent in the past and hallucinated during the memorial service as he was gesturing incoherently just 3 feet away from U.S. President Barack Obama and other leaders.

A deputy minister, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, first apologized for the incident Thursday.

Mandela died Dec. 5 at age 95.

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