SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Among the performers at this year’s Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony is a man who doesn’t say a word.

But sign-language interpreter Chuck Mayer was likely watched closely on Thursday after an interpreter stirred controversy at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

Thamsanqa Jantjie is coming under fire, accused of signing gibberish during the memorial service. He says he interpreted correctly, but panicked after seeing visions of angels coming into the stadium.

Mayer doesn’t buy that explanation.

“He just didn’t know what he was doing,” he said.

Sonja McClain says she used to drive a school bus for the deaf and that those who relied on Jantjie missed out on a historic moment.

“It’s a disservice,” she said. “He shouldn’t have been up there in the first place.”

CBS13 went to no higher authority than North Pole spokesman Santa Claus, who attended Thursday’s festivities in Sacramento, about the interpreter.

“I think he belonged on the naughty list,” Claus said. “He was not too good. Eventually, hopefully, he’ll get back on the nice list.”

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