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'Fake' Mandela sign language interpreter pulled out of psych hospital to shoot commercial

Startup company Livelens hired Thamsanqa Jantjie for the commercial.
By Evan Bleier   |   May 8, 2014 at 3:29 PM   |   Comments

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TEL AVIV, Israel, May 8 (UPI) -- An Israeli startup got the "phony" sign language interpreter from Nelson Mandela's memorial service out of a psychiatric hospital so that he could film a commercial for their new marketing campaign.

LiveLens hired a Zulu-speaking journalist to visit Thamsanqa Jantjie in the hospital and got him released so that he could go to a one-day "family event."

Jantjie spent the day filming a commercial for Livelens, a new app that lets users stream video of themselves to their social media pages. "I am really, really sorry for what happened," Jantjie says in the ad. "Now I want to make it up to the whole world."

"We saw him with our own eyes; he's a normal guy," said Sefi Shaked, Livelens' marketing manager. "Now he can have the closure and earn some money from it. It's morally right. We see it as sort of a sad story with a happy ending."

Livelens apparently wasn't overly-concerned with Jantjie being a mental patient.

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

The National Association of the Deaf has already called for a boycott of Livelens.

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