Sign language interpreter from Nelson Mandela's funeral in bizarre advert

Thamsanqa Jantjie has been undergoing psychiatric treatment

Lizzie Dearden
Monday 12 May 2014 16:47 BST
Thamsanqa Jantjie appeared in the advert for LiveLens.
Thamsanqa Jantjie appeared in the advert for LiveLens. (LiveLens/YouTUbe)

The interpreter who stunned the world with wildly incorrect sign language at Nelson Mandela’s funeral has resurfaced in bizarre advert for a smartphone app.

Sign language experts said Thamsanqa Jantjie referred to prawns and rocking horses in a string of gibberish at the former South Africa President’s memorial service in December.

He later said he had suffered a schizophrenic episode where angels appeared in the Soweto stadium as he was translating Barack Obama’s speech.

Mr Jantjie has been undergoing treatment at a psychiatric clinic since the incident but reportedly filmed the new advert while on day release.

In the video, for a new app by Israeli company LiveLens, he introduces himself as “Thamsanqa Jantjie from Nelson Mandela’s funeral”.

Clips of the memorial service are shown with a voice-over translating his sign language, including a part that says “hand me the scissors” during Mr Obama’s speech.

In an apparent parody of a press conference, he apologises for “what happened” before saying he does campaigns for money and parodying an Old Spice advert.

When he finally starts describing what the app does, broadcasting videos, he is “decapitated” in a visual effect and blood is seen spurting from his headless torso.

The advert finishes with him dancing alone in a corner of the screen.

LiveLens has been criticised for exploiting a vulnerable person and many members of the deaf community took to Twitter to raise concerns about disability being trivialised.

Max Bluvband, the company’s chief executive, insisted giving money to a person with mental illness was positive.

“We decided that the guy who had the worst live show ever would be the best person,” Mr Bluvband told NBCNews.

“At the end of the day, a schizophrenic guy got paid and did a nice campaign...we see it as sort of a sad story with a happy ending.”

He denied claims the company helped to secure Mr Jantjie’s temporary release from a psychiatric hospital and said he took part of his own free will while on day release.

The company, based in Tel-Aviv, is using the video to advertise an app that lets users stream videos to followers and friends across social networks and charge a fee if they choose.

See the video from Mr Mandela's funeral here:

Read more:
Gruesome criminal allegations emerge about Mandela interpreter

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