Israeli start-up hires phony interpreter
Sign of the timesSign of the times

Israeli start-up hires phony interpreter

Livelens says it helped Mandela-funeral 'signer' Thamsanqa Jantjie get out of psychiatric hospital for a day to shoot ad

The disgraced sign language interpreter from Nelson Mandela’s funeral is now a viral video star for a Tel-Aviv based video-sharing app.

“We needed something surprising,” said Sefi Shaked of Livelens, according to The New York Daily News. “We wanted to choose a presenter who is the worst presenter for a live app possible; you know, the person who did the worst screw up on live TV — ever.”

Thamsanqa Jantjie made headlines last December after he was outed as a fraud for making meaningless gestures while working onstage as an interpreter during famed civil rights leader Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, which was broadcast live internationally. During the service, he stood next to US President Barack Obama and other world leaders and dignitaries.

He later revealed that he is schizophrenic and claimed that he was having hallucinations during the service and checked into a psychiatric hospital.

In the Livelens video Jantjie apologizes for the incident and also makes fun of himself by appearing as his own — phony — interpreter. According to a voice-over, while he is apologizing he is also signing, “Me famous celebrity. Now I do campaign for money.”

The ad was shot in Johannesburg in February, according to Shaked, and Jantjie was only able to leave the hospital after he claimed he had a wedding to go to and somebody posed as a relative to escort him.

Reports following the memorial service revealed that Jantjie had faced numerous criminal charges in the past for rape, murder and kidnapping, among others things.

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