Thamsanqa Jantjie off the hook

2014-05-11 19:28

Johannesburg - The Gauteng health department won’t launch an investigation into circumstances surrounding the pass that was granted to controversial sign-language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie.

Jantjie – who is being treated for schizophrenia at Sterkfontein Hospital, a state psychiatric facility on Gauteng’s West Rand – was recently granted a pass to attend a family event. But it turned out he used the time to film an advert for an Israeli company, Livelens.

Now questions are being asked about whether Jantjie broke the rules by requesting a pass, claiming that he had to attend a family event when he knew he wanted time to shoot an advert.

Department spokesperson Simon Zwane said Jantjie had done nothing wrong because he had a pass “and returned on the agreed time and date”.

He explained that all patients who are hospitalised for a long period because of the nature of their illness and treatment are granted time to go and be with family.

In the 1.19-minute advert, Jantjie, who shot to infamy in December when he signed gibberish during former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Joburg, says: “I am Thamsanqa Jantjie from Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

“Believe me, I am a real professional sign-language interpreter. I am really sorry for what happened. Now I want to make it up to the whole world.”

He goes on to tell the viewers about Livelens, a new social streaming app, and explains how people can use it to share live video with their friends.

It is not clear how much Jantjie was paid by Livelens.

City Press visited his wife at their home in Braamfischerville, Soweto, on Friday.

Siziwe Jantjie refused to talk about how her husband landed the deal and how much he was paid.

However, London newspaper The Telegraph reported this week that Livelens marketing manager Sefi Shaked told NBC News that he asked a Zulu-speaking journalist to tell hospital staff that Jantjie needed to be released for one day for a family event.

The paper quoted Shaked as saying: “We saw him with our own eyes, he’s a normal guy. Now he can have the closure and earn some money from it. It’s morally right.

“We helped him get on the right track. 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.”

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