Relative: Mandela Signer in Group That Burned Men

The fake interpreter at last week's Nelson Mandela memorial service never went to trial for being involved in killings in 2003.

Posted: 12/16/2013 09:06 AM EST

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A relative and three friends of the bogus sign language interpreter at the Nelson Mandela memorial service say he was among a group of people who accosted two men found with a stolen television and burned them to death in 2003.

They told The Associated Press that tires were placed around the men's necks and set ablaze. Unlike two other suspects who went to trial in 2006 for the killings, the four said on Monday that Thamsanqa Jantjie never did because authorities determined he wasn't mentally fit.

The men, including one of Jantjie's cousins, insisted on anonymity because of sensitivity surrounding the bogus signing, which embarrassed South Africa's government.

They say Jantjie was institutionalized and then returned to his neighborhood on the outskirts of Soweto.

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(Photo: AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

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