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Fake interpreter Jantjie stars in bizarre new advert

Staff Reporter

Thamsanqa Jantjie, the man accused of "faking" sign language at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, has appeared in a bizarre app advert.

Thamsanqa Jantjie, the man accused of faking sign language at Nelson Mandela's memorial service, has appeared in a bizarre advert. (Reuters)

Controversial figure Thamsanqa Jantjie has reemerged in the media, this time in an advertisement for a new livestreaming video app.

During the advertisement for the Livelens livestreaming app, an Israeli start-up, Jantjie speaks to the camera while a female voiceover explains what his signing “really means”.

The advert shows Jantjie’s now-infamous time on stage with US President Barack Obama, as the woman’s voice suggests he was actually signing: “Cigarette share, hand me the scissors”.

In the advert, Jantjie says: “Believe me, I am a real professional sign language interpreter” to which the voiceover adds, “I speak sign language – not.”

The sign language interpreter who stood next to the podium and signed what heads of states, religious leaders and other celebrated figures had to say about Mandela at his memorial service last year was accused by the deaf community in South Africa of using incorrect signs.

Jantjie stated that he was hired by a company called “Interpreters SA”, where he is a senior interpreter.

As he apologises in the advert for what happened at Mandela’s memorial service, the woman’s voice chimes in: “Me famous celebrity,” before Jantjie introduces the Livelens app.

After the furore caused by his “fake” signing, Jantjie revealed that he suffers from schizophrenia. He was admitted to Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital in December.

Jantjie’s wife, Siziwe, took her husband to the hospital in Krugersdorp for a check-up in December last year, where it was suggested he be admitted immediately.

Jantjie was reportedly supposed to go to Sterkfontein earlier in December for a check-up. But following the offer to interpret at the memorial service held at FNB Stadium in Soweto on the same day, he contacted the hospital to reschedule the appointment.

Jantjie was convicted of theft and once had a string of criminal charges, including murder, laid against him.

eNCA reported that a murder, attempted murder and kidnapping case from 2003, against Jantjie and two other men, was referred to the high court in Johannesburg in 2004, and was finalised in November 2006.

But the outcome was unknown as the court file for the case was found empty by eNCA reporters. Using court and police records, eNCA established that Jantjie was convicted of theft in 1995, and is recorded to have received a three-year sentence.

He was charged with housebreaking in July 1997 and malicious damage to property in April 1998. Jantjie was also charged with rape in September 1994, but was later acquitted.

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