Mandela funeral interpreter gets a new advertising gig

Thamsanqa Jantjie's signing at Nelson Mandela's funeral caused a global stir. Now he's got a new signing gig, for a live-streaming app. Photo / AP
Thamsanqa Jantjie's signing at Nelson Mandela's funeral caused a global stir. Now he's got a new signing gig, for a live-streaming app. Photo / AP

The South African who provided bogus sign language for Nelson Mandela's memorial last year has been hired to feature in a new advertising campaign for a live-streaming app.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, who sparked outrage with his gibberish translation of eulogies - including those by US President Barack Obama and Mandela's grandchildren - is now the face of a commercial for Livelens.

The commercial kicks off with him introducing himself: "Hi I'm Thamsanqa Jantjie from Nelson Mandela's funeral."

He then starts signing. "Believe me, I'm a real sign language interpreter, I speak signed language - not," he signs to the backdrop of a female voiceover.

He then speaks in his own voice to apologise.

"I'm really, really sorry for what happened," he says in the ad speaking from a podium.

Then he returns to sign language which is voiced over, saying "Me, famous celebrity!"

"Now I want to make up to the whole world. Now I do campaign for money."

The company said on its Facebook page that it was surprised that the advert would generate much public interest.

"We never thought our video ad would gather so much interest from people," it wrote, saying it did not mean to disrespect the deaf.

"It's also ok to give people a second chance. Thamsanqa is mentally ill and admitted several times he made a mistake... Should he be banned for life?" it said.

The advert ends with Jantjie taking off his jacket and dancing away.

According to American broadcaster NBC, the commercial was shot in February and Jantjie had to be released from a psychiatric hospital he had been in for more than a month.

"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," Livelens marketing manager Sefi Shaked, told NBC.

It was unclear how much Jantjie was paid for the commercial.

- AFP

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