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Fake Mandela memorial sign interpreter freed from psych ward to cut app ad

- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2014

The fake sign language interpreter for the deaf who put on a baffling yet humorous performance at the memorial service of former South African President Nelson Mandela — right on stage next to U.S. President Obama — has been set free from his psychiatric ward confines for a day to help an Israeli company cut a commercial.

LiveLens, an Israeli start-up venture, asked for a one-day release for the Zulu-speaking Thamsanqa Jantjie for an occasion cited as a "family event," United Press International reported. But really, Mr. Jantjie spent his day out cutting a commercial for the company's new app that allows users to stream video of themselves right onto their social media pages, UPI said.

In the ad, Mr. Jantjie said: "I am really, really sorry for what happened. Now I want to make it up to the whole world."

The company's marketing manager, meanwhile, called the so-called sign interpreter a "normal guy" who will now have the ability to "have the closure" he's craved from his Mandela memorial performance — which saw him standing on the stage and basically signing the same motions over and over, despite the changing rhetoric of speakers.

He was subsequently sent to a psychiatric facility for follow-up treatment.

"We see [the ad] as sort of a sad story with a happy ending," said Marketing Manager Sefi Shaked, UPI reported. The idea of using a mental patient to cut a promotional spot didn't give the company much cause for concern.

"We decided that the guy who had the worst live show ever would be the best person," LiveLens CEO Max Bluvband told NBC News.

Meanwhile, the National Association of the Deaf isn't amused. The group's called for the boycott of LiveLens.

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