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By Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African sign language interpreter accused of miming nonsense as world leaders paid tribute to Nelson Mandela defended himself as a "champion" signer on Thursday, but said he suffered a schizophrenic episode during the event. The interpreter, 34-year-old Thamsanqa Jantjie, told Johannesburg's Star newspaper he started hearing voices and hallucinating while on stage, resulting in gestures that made no sense to outraged deaf people around the world. Millions of TV viewers saw Jantjie interpreting for leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama and his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, at Tuesday's Mandela memorial. Afterwards South Africa's leading deaf association denounced Jantjie as a fake who was making up gestures as he stood yards away from world leaders.