Meet all the Miss South Africa 2017 Semi-Finalists – Vote for Your Favourite @Official_MissSA

Meet all the Miss South Africa 2017 Semi-Finalists – Vote for Your Favourite @Official_MissSA

MISS SOUTH AFRICA 2017 SEMI-FINALISTS REVEALED
Who will take the crown in March next year?

The Top 26 Miss South Africa semi-finalists – who are vying for the title of Miss South Africa 2017 – have been revealed. They will compete for the prestigious title at the Sun City Superbowl on March 25 in an event which will be televised live and simulcast on M-Net and Mzansi Magic.

The Miss South Africa 2017 semi-finalists are an impressive group. Among them are a medical doctor and a speech therapist; several law students; one about to qualify as an engineer; the owner of a construction company and a news reader on Soweto TV.

Two were Miss South Africa finalists (placed in the Top 12) in 2014 and 2015; one was awarded her Protea colours in rhythmic gymnastics at the age of 13 and was a gold medal winner at the All African Championships while another contestant is the daughter of a legendary former Bafana Bafana soccer captain.

The semi-finalists come from six of the country’s nine provinces: 14 are from Gauteng, six from the Western Cape, three from Kwa-Zulu Natal and one each from the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

In Gauteng they come from Alexandra, Soweto, Johannesburg, Lenasia, Pretoria, Springs, Benoni and Krugersdorp and in the Western Cape semi-finalists hail from Cape Town, Herold’s Bay, Atlantis and Sedgefield. Kwa-Zulu Natal contestants come from Durban, Mtunzini and Port Shepstone.

They are (in alphabetical order):

Adè van Heerden – Herold’s Bay, Western Cape
Boipelo Mabe – Alexandra, Gauteng
Callie-Jo Bouman – Bellville, Cape Town, Western Cape
Chante Holloway – Atlantis, Western Cape
Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters – Sedgefield, Western Cape
Devoney Crossman – Greenstone, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Iman Mkwanazi – Lenasia, Gauteng
Jessica Tovey – Randparkridge, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Kayla Malherbe – Mtunzini, Kwa Zulu Natal
Keipeile Dintoe – Saulsville, Pretoria, Gauteng
Lou-Marie Taljaard – Bellville, Cape Town, Western Cape
Michelle Kruger – Witbank, Mpumalanga
Milanie Cilliers – Mokopane, Limpopo
Nicole van Niekerk – Môregloed, Pretoria, Gauteng
Nompumelelo Mampholo – Diepkloof, Soweto, Gauteng
Ntombikayise Msimango – Springs, Gauteng
Odirile Sepeng – Mabopane, Pretoria, Gauteng
Olin-Shae de la Cruz – Claremont, Cape Town, Western Cape
Priyeshka Lutchman – Yellowwood Park, Durban, Kwa Zulu Natal
Saskia Wagner – Honeydew, Gauteng
Shané Naidoo – Benoni, Gauteng
Shelbe Pretorius – Pinehaven, Krugersdorp, Gauteng
Shenai Bridglall – Port Shepstone, Kwa Zulu Natal
Tshegofatso Monggae – Dobsonville, Soweto, Gauteng
Yuta Raubenheimer – Kameeldrift, Pretoria, Gauteng
Zozibini Tunzi – East London/Tsolo, Eastern Cape

“We have a very talented and diverse Top 26 this year, a group of young women who are passionate about competing and who have the intelligence, dedication and attitude to take the crown,” says Claudia Henkel, PR Manager: Sun International, licence holders of Miss South Africa.

Suzette van der Merwe, Executive: Commercial Communications for headline sponsor Cell C adds: “The competition attracted high calibre entrants this year. We believe these young women are passionate about the opportunities associated with wearing the Miss South Africa crown and do their country proud.”

The young woman who is crowned Miss South Africa 2017 will automatically become the spokesperson for the Cell C Take a Girl Child to Work Day initiative.

Ntandoyenkosi Kunene, the current Miss South Africa, will crown her successor at the 2017 pageant. She will be leaving at the end of the year to compete in the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants.

Miss South Africa is the most prestigious pageant in South Africa, boasting a Miss Universe and three Miss Worlds, and the women who have worn the crown are icons in many different spheres of life. That is the hope, and dream, of every one of the Top 26 semi-finalists: to have her portrait hung in that hall of fame.

Miss South Africa 2017 will receive R1-million in cash from sponsors Sun International and Cell C as well as a bouquet of prizes that will elevate the competition to one of the richest pageants in the world.

The Miss South Africa Pageant is a proud collaboration between Sun International and Cell C. The new Miss South Africa 2017 will be crowned at Sun City on March 25 and simulcast live on Mzansi Magic (Channel 161) and M-Net (Channel 101).

MISS SOUTH AFRICA 2017 FINALISTS
(in alphabetical order of first names)

ADÈ VAN HEERDEN – HEROLD’S BAY, WESTERN CAPE
Age: 25 years
Occupation: Medical doctor and second lieutenant in the South African Military Health Services.
Previous beauty pageants entered and placed in: Miss Mamelodi Sundowns 2015 (second princess).

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you can bring to the role?
Every day we are presented with multiple opportunities that shape our lives and the lives of those around us. This competition is an opportunity to enrich my own life and simultaneously contribute to the growth and success of our rainbow nation. It would be an honour to be entrusted with this prestigious title. I believe that I am representative of the “new and upcoming” generation of women in our country. We are smart, assertive and informed but also empathetic and caring. This reflects in my calling as a doctor in the military – I’m not afraid to stand my ground on a physical or emotional level. I hope to lead as dynamically and open minded as I live my life.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
The role of Miss South Africa is ever evolving and women in our generation are stepping into important leadership positions on all fronts. Miss South Africa must be able to engage with children on their level and also have the ability to address important issues such as HIV, poverty and mental health. She must be well-groomed but natural. She should carry a regal presence that introduces her even before she speaks. Kindness and honesty must be a core value. She must be calm and level-headed when confronted with adversity.

Who are your role models?
I don’t have one specific role model. All my life I have read about, personally met or seen people who have impacted on my spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. I therefore believe that every person we meet has the potential to inspire us and teach us in order to grow as a person.

Who is your favourite Miss South Africa?
Melinda Bam. She was very well prepared for every engagement during her reign and paid attention to detail. She was smart and well- spoken but at the same time spontaneous and fun. Melinda worked extremely hard as being Miss South Africa has a lot of “behind the scenes preparation” attached to it. She was a fearless title holder and represented our country with grace and sex appeal during the Miss Universe competition. On completion of her reign she has pursued many entrepreneurial business ventures and continues creating events that encourage and inspire women.

Tell us a bit about your family:
My father Andre is a consultant in the health and safety industry. My mother Ana
is a creative writer. I have an older sister Pauli who is a medical doctor at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital while my younger sister is Emma is a specialist consultant in the renewable energy industry. My sisters and I live in Observatory, Cape Town, with our little dachshund, Sebastian.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Elon Musk. This South African born mega-entrepreneur overcame many obstacles to ultimately create a business that knows no limits. I am inspired by his ability to create solutions to problems that seem insolvable.

What is your message to young girls and young woman in South Africa?
The momentum of women is undeniable, but we sometimes lack confidence, despite being talented and qualified for leadership. We do not need empowerment; we are powerful beyond measure. We only need to believe in our unequivocal abilities and be confident that we can lead and transform this country. We are emotional and loving by nature. We should embrace it and use it to bring something inspiring, fresh and unique to the table.

What do you do in your spare time?
Junior doctors work long hours and shifts can be up to 30 hours. With that being said, I try using my spare time to do things that are “soul soothing” – the first of which is exercise. This I balance between boxing, the gym and outdoor activities such as hiking. My hobby is baking. I bake anything from extravagant cakes with an element of surprise to just simple brownies with which to spoil my sisters or work colleagues.

What is one thing people will be surprised to find out about you?
I received my Protea colours in rhythmic gymnastics at the age of 13 and was gold medal winner at the All African Championships.

What are you reading?
I recently finished the new Harry Potter release, The Cursed Child. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and I’ve read every book twice. I’m also reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. The book focuses on learning to calm one’s mind and be completely present in the moment.

What music are you listening to?
Mostly the songs topping the charts at the moment on iTunes – anything to add some good energy to the atmosphere.

What is your favourite TV programme?
Suits. Who hasn’t got a crush on, Harvey Specter, the smart and self-confident lawyer, who wins impossible cases because he believes in himself and the skills of his team?

What is your favourite meal?

I love a well-balanced breakfast. Scrambled eggs with some avocado on rye toast and a side of fresh fruit.

What is your favourite quote?
“Just because you’re soft, doesn’t mean you’re not a force. Honey and wildfire are both the colour of gold.” – Victoria Erickson

BOIPELO MABE – ALEXANDRA,GAUTENG
Age: 23
Occupation: Full time Masters student and news reader on Soweto TV
Previous beauty competitions/pageants: Clicks Cover Girl 2015 winner; Miss Greater Alexandra 2013 winner and Miss Teen Tshwane 2010 Top 10

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you can bring to the role?
Miss South Africa empowers and equips young women to be leaders in their own right and I strongly believe that going through the competition and winning will provide me with the necessary tools and platform that will help me to reach my untapped potential. Secondly, with the kind of brand I am establishing through my work as a model, as an academic and as a current affairs television and radio presenter, I believe I will bring a new sense of what it means to be a beauty with heart and brains. My personal journey and story is one so relatable to the ordinary South African that I foresee it deepening the relationship South Africans will have with Miss South Africa as an individual and as an organisation.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Taking into consideration the rich diversity of our country in culture, race, language and ethnicity, I believe a Miss South Africa needs to be a person who people can identify with on various levels. She needs to be a young woman who knows who she is and what she stands for and can articulate that gracefully. She must have strong leadership qualities, a considerate, tolerant and empathetic heart as well as a strong, consistent character given any circumstance.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Basetsana Kumalo. She is the perfect example of what Miss South Africa is about and how it touches lives. I was only a toddler the year she got crowned, but I grew up knowing her as our Miss South Africa and it was her that I associated the pageant brand with and my own personal dream of being crowned one day. The fact that we remember her as Miss South Africa, more than 20 years later, is proof to me of the influence, impact, value and relevance of being a part of an initiative such as Miss South Africa.

Who are your role models?
I draw inspiration from a number of people but more so from my father. He has taught me how to be independent and to work hard for what I want.

Tell us a bit about your family?
My incredible father Stephen Kotlolo has been a taxi driver for more than 25 years. Educationally he only got up to grade 8 but has been the biggest inspiration and motivator in my academic journey. Although financially he couldn’t provide much when I was growing up, he was a truly present father who supported me in my education, hobbies and interests even though he did not understand it at times. From him I have learned the principles of hard work, standing for what I believe in and to be independent. I used to be embarrassed by the fact that my dad was a taxi driver but today I have grown to embrace and celebrate it. I realised it was his presence, love and support that mattered most to my growth and development as a young woman, not his job title. My amazing mother, Monnye Mabe (47) attained a diploma in computer literacy after completing her grade 12 in rural North West. Her outgoing and bold personality has made it so easy to have an open and close relationship with her, she’s my best friend! She has been incredibly supportive of all my dreams, ambitions and decisions I have made thus far. Through all our family struggles she remains strong, composed and always has a smile on her face. From her I have learned to pick myself up and keep going when life throws me to the ground.

What do you do in your spare time?
I use any spare time I have to rest and spend time with loved ones. I enjoy watching movies at the cinema and attending relevant social events in my industries. I also thoroughly enjoy the outdoors – walks in the park, nature reserves and road trips far away from the city.
What is your message to young girls and women in South Africa?
Embrace yourself entirely – your background, your abilities, your dreams and, most importantly, your womanhood because that’s what makes up who you are. Once you know who you are there’s no stopping you – in there lies your unique, significant contribution to the world.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, the first female president of Liberia and the first woman to ever head an African country. I would love to hear how she overcame the difficulties of such a position especially being a woman and her advice to any woman operating on a national and/or global level.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I was a classical ballet dancer for nine years of my life and I was ready to take it up professionally as a career but struggled due to my flat feet.

What are you reading?
Lean In For Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook). The book gives great insight and advice to women who seek to leave a mark through their careers and beyond social barriers put up by society.

What music are you listening to?
A mixed variety of artists and genres but predominantly Beyonce.

Favourite TV show?
CSI

What is

Your favourite meal?

My mother’s seven colours dish

What is your favourite quote?
“I didn’t get there by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it” –
Estee Lauder

CALLIE-JO BOUMAN – BELLVILLE, CAPE TOWN, WESTERN CAPE
Age: 22
Occupation: I am currently in the third year of a BCom Accounting with Law degree at the University of Cape Town.
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I have had my heart set on being Miss South Africa since childhood. I am a proud South African filled with a lot of passion and love for my country. Our country is beautiful but I believe that it is our people who add the true beauty to our country. We have such a rich history and diversity which we should continually celebrate. I have entered the Miss South Africa pageant because it gives you a platform to influence and inspire young people and give them hope. I feel that I am ready, both mentally and physically, to make a meaningful difference in my country. Through my reign, I want to endorse a spirit of inclusivity whereby the marginalised are brought to the forefront to feel included in our rainbow nation. I am currently involved in ‘Prison Care and Support Network’ whereby we visit women in prison. I am even more concerned about their children who may be filled with the abandonment, loneliness and shame that comes from having a parent in prison. Furthermore, the empowerment of young girls is pivotal to me. Through my involvement in preparing High School girls from previous disadvantage communities to compete in beauty contests, I am able to play a role in boosting their confidence whilst instilling the notion of pageants being about more than beauty.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa is a glamorous title whereby she exudes a sense of beauty, confidence and poise. Yet her role is one whereby she humbles herself to uplift the lives of those around her. She should serve her country with grace, be a role model and a true ambassador for our country. She should be up-to-date with the current affairs in her country and never shy away from her role to make a difference in these real situations. She should be well rooted and exemplify our rainbow nation in order to be relatable to both young and old.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Jo-Ann Strauss has inspired me. Although she studied a law degree, she established herself through Pasella and Top Billing as one of South Africa’s most respected media personalities. She uses her profile to empower and inspire young women through her involvement in various initiatives, like the Princess Project and the Partnership Foundation Trust.

Who are your role models?
My father is my greatest role model. He was one of 15 children and grew up in a rural town called Kanoneiland near Upington. His father, who left school in grade 3, was a handyman making a living through maintenance jobs for the local farmers. His mother, who left school in grade 1 to look after her blind grandmother, was working doing housekeeping jobs for the farmers. Besides all his success, my father still proudly mentions his childhood. He taught me that education is your door to success and that you should never be shy of who and what you are. He said: “People can rob you of everything in life, but one thing they can never take away from you is your education.”

Tell us a bit more about your family?
My parents both work at Ravensmead High School where my father is the principal and my mother is a teacher. My sister just completed her Bachelor of Commerce degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology. We are a very close-knit family and firmly believe in the motto that blood is thicker than water.

What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy spending my spare time with my family (whether it’s watching a soapie or rugby). I enjoy the outdoors and I like to keep active by going to gym, playing netball, running, swimming and dancing. Playing with my two dogs, Rambo and Coalby, fills me with much joy and I also enjoy singing in our church’s youth band.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
My message to them is to dream big and not to let their lives be defined by the words of others. The year before I matriculated, I went for an aptitude test. I’ll never forget being told that the suggested career for me was to be the owner of a coffee shop. Yet, over the past two years, I have received international recognition with Golden Key for being amongst the top 15% of academic achievers at university level. It is so easy to fall into the trap of letting others determine how bright you may shine, when in actual fact, you determine your own voltage.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would be so humbled to meet the remarkable Thuli Madonsela. As a public protector, she has fulfilled her role in serving the people of South Africa by being their voice against injustice. Her service started long before her term when she helped draft the Constitution. She is a woman who is professional, humble, fearless and filled with integrity.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
The first modelling job I ever got was as a hand model. I regard that as my big break. I am also able to hoola-hoop very well.

What are you reading?
Outliers – The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. The book draws awareness of what one needs to succeed and be exceptional in life. I enjoy reading books that are educational or relatable.

What music are you listening to?
I grew up listening to the music of the eighties and nineties. Although I like to keep up with the latest trends, those songs will always be home for me. Given my faith, I also enjoy listening to gospel music.

Your Favourite TV show?

Suits, Hawaii Five-O and Drop Dead Diva. I also watch the local news to broaden my horizon on current affairs.

Your favourite meal?
My father’s home-made soup (even though it is actually my grandmother’s recipe) and home-made rolls that always accompanies the soup.

What is your favourite quote?
“You are more powerful than you know” – Melissa Etheridge

CHANTE HOLLOWAY – ATLANTIS, WESTERN CAPE
Age: 22
Occupation: I’m a student at the University of Western Cape currently majoring in French and politics.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants: Miss Western Cape (placed top 5); won Miss Radio Atlantis and Miss Destiny Riders, which are small pageants that played a big role in helping me gain my confidence.
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I have always wanted to be a role model for my community and I still do. The community of Atlantis is infamous for gang activity and substance abuse but I refused to succumb to the status quo. I tried going to school outside of Atlantis, but I still did not feel as if I belonged. At this point I began to struggle with identifying who I was as a person and changed my hair colour and got braces in an attempt to fit in. This constant battle with having to find myself led to the development of my depression. This was one of the worst points of my life but at the same time, one of the best because instead of letting it control me, I chose to prove my worth and thrive in my individuality even if I had a boy’s haircut and braces. I started doing pageants and was eventually scouted and got the opportunity to audition for New York Film Academy. Being overseas I was not labelled as “different” or “weird”, but referred to as “exotic”. This opened my eyes and I realised that there is beauty in being different. I was born here for a reason and if that reason is to stand out and inspire others, I am ready. As a Miss South Africa I’d want to be the voice of my people who are not being heard especially within the community, I feel I could bring a sense of individuality, and be living proof that it’s okay to be different.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa must have the ability to make South Africans smile with the kindness she exudes. She should possess humility, those around her should feel that she is approachable yet has a sense of individuality. She should be selfless, putting South Africa’s needs before her own. She must have the ability to empathise and be courageous enough to speak for those she feels are not being heard.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Liesl Laurie. We come from similar backgrounds and she’s very relatable. In one of her interviews she says her looks are not earned. That is such an empowering statement. We are more than just our beauty.

Who are your role models?
My mom. Even though I would play in the street with the boys till late in the day, mostly climbing trees, she would always tell me to be a lady. When I was struggling with depression in my early teens she was the one who was there for me. She’s been a single parent for a year now and she’s incredibly strong; she hasn’t lost her passion for life and happiness.
Tell us a bit more about your family?
My mother has been a teacher for about 40 years. She’s the kindest woman I know. My father passed away last year from cancer. He was the music in the house, always singing, he had a beautiful voice. My brother decided to explore the streets of Cape Town instead of being in class and now works as a driver for my uncle; he says he’s the good looking one. The death of my father brought us a lot closer.

What do you do in your spare time?
I really do love the outdoors. I have gone bungee jumping and I sometimes go quad biking with the boys and I am quite a foodie.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Having trouble fitting in and being made fun of so often, I really wish I had someone who could tell me that standing out is a good thing and that I am valuable as a person. Because I didn’t have that person I’d like to be that person, and hopefully work with youth who are going through difficult times, creating awareness for depression in teenagers. I’d want to spread the message that your circumstances, environment and how you are perceived by the world does not define you.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Ellen DeGeneres, she always spreads the message of kindness, she provides so many scholarships for those eager to learn but are financially struggling, as well as a platform for so many artists to express their talents and also because I used to walk past her studio almost every day hoping that I’d get a chance to go watch her show live someday.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I can ride a motorcycle.

What are you reading?
Foe by J.M Coetzee. This book highlights feminism, politics and the oppressed – not only in South Africa but in society.

What music are you listening to?
I listen to everything, I love music. I try and stay up to date, so I enjoy The Weekend and Ariana Grande; I love Hillsong but my favourite opera singer is Katherine Jenkins. Kwesta featuring Casper Nyovest “Ngud” was my favourite song for about a month.

Your Favourite TV show?

I don’t watch a lot of TV but when I do, it would be on a Saturday morning. I’d be watching SpongeBob.

Your favourite meal?
I’m vegetarian so anything without meat in it is my favourite meal.

What is your favourite quote?
“Separation is an illusion, everything is connected.” This resonates so strongly with me personally. I know that if we understand that we’re all connected, that we’re no different from one another, we’d be more compassionate towards one another.
Anything else you would like to add?
Always carry plasters in your handbag, it can save a toe.

DEMI-LEIGH NEL-PETERS – SEDGEFIELD, WESTERN CAPE
Age: 21
Occupation: Final year B.Com business management and entrepreneurship student. I am also a part time model at Boss Models and Vision Management.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants entered: Miss Teen SA 2010 Top 5; Miss Diaz 2012 winner; Miss NWU Varsity Cup 2015 winner and Miss Varsity Cup 2015 national winner.

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I experienced the power of this platform as a young girl watching the Miss South Africa crownings over the December holidays with my mom. I remember being amazed by the amount of poise and grace that the winners carried themselves with. I have always lived my life in such a way to become the gracious, independent and diligent woman that I am today. If I could be that same inspiration to just one young girl out there, it would be a dream come true. I am sure that my “never say die” attitude and love for people will inspire young woman. I am a small town girl with big aspirations.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa should be gentle, caring and kind. She should be known as a person who always gives of herself. Miss South Africa is confident and passionate about life but most importantly, she is relatable.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Cindy Nell has always been a woman I look up to. She is a Miss South Africa that really used the platform to the best of her ability. She has always been unapologetically dynamic and is now a successful business woman. I also found a lot of value in her Model and Pageant Handbook.

Who are your role models?
I can’t single out anyone specific. I have had various people that I have looked up to and drawn strength from at different stages and situations in my life. I think everyone is unique and bring something special to the table. I admire woman like Marissa Mayer, the first female engineer and then CEO of Yahoo. Women who don’t only strive to be the equals of men, but who strive to live up to their full potential.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
I consider myself extremely blessed to have four amazing parents. They are my biggest supporters and they have always believed in me and dreamed with me. My mom and my step-dad live in Sedgefield. My step-dad, Johan Steenkamp, is the gentlest soul I have ever met and he truly raised me as his own. He is in the building industry. My mom, Anne-Mari Steenkamp is my absolute rock. She is an interior designer as well as a landscaper. My dad and step-mom live in Potchefstroom. My step-mom, Elzabé Peters is a clinical psychologist. My dad, Bennie Peters recently stepped out of the corporate world and opened Sunset Manor Guest house in Potchefstroom. It’s always been his dream to go into the hospitality industry. I have a 10 year old half-sister, Franje. She is my dad and step-mom’s daughter. She was born without a cerebellum and is thus completely disabled. She is my biggest motivator in life (and she has the most beautiful lashes any girl can dream of).

What do you do in your spare time?
At this moment, studying. Growing up in the Garden Route, I have always loved spending time outdoors. I enjoy trail runs, hiking, road races or even just taking my two Yorkies, Benji and Baxter for a walk in a park. I like to be creative at times. I always try to make handmade cards for friends and family on their birthdays or I scrapbook pictures of places I’ve travelled to. I also enjoy reading fictional books to escape reality for a while as well as autobiographies that I can draw inspiration from. My ultimate “me time” would definitely be getting ready in the morning. I love being a girl and playing around with make-up or trying new hair styles when I have time.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible’. You are worthy, you matter and you are capable of more than you could ever dream of, all you have to do is try.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would be thrilled to meet former Miss South Africa, now influential business woman and philanthropist, Basetsana Kumalo. As an aspiring business woman, I could learn a lot from Bassie. She always comes across as a very well rounded and balanced woman. I think we will have a lot to talk about.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I was the first girl in my high school to be chosen as head girl of both my school and my hostel. I was also elected as the Deputy Junior Mayor of the George City Council in grade 11.

What are you reading?
I am currently reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

What music are you listening to?
I’m a big fan of Enya, Adele and Taylor Swift. I also appreciate good classical symphonies. Classical music, especially Beethoven, enhanced my concentration while studying maths.

YourFavourite TV show?

I enjoy watching Suits. Donna is my favourite character; I adore her witty sense of humour. She’s such a power woman.

Your favourite meal?
This is a tough choice between pork ribs with a barbeque basting served with oven roast vegetables or oxtail in a red wine reduction served with samp.

What is your favourite quote?
“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no-one else has ever been before.” – Albert Einstein

DEVONEY CROSSMAN – GREENSTONE, JOHANNESBURG, GAUTENG
Age: 24
Occupation: Human resources administrative consultant and co-owner of Olive + Maroon, a women’s clothing, jewellery and sunglasses brand
Previous beauty competitions/pageants entered and placed in: Face of Clearwater – 2nd Princess; Top Model – winner of the performance arts apprenticeship; Miss Million dollar – Top 10 and Mr. and Miss Pretoria – Top 5
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
As Miss South Africa I would have the ability to effect change where previously I didn’t have a platform to do so. That being said, I want to hold the crown with poise and grace but, at the same time, effect change in the lives of South Africans. I am fortunate enough to have a diverse background and therefore believe I could instil positive change in the youth of today.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
A Miss South Africa should possess qualities that are awe-inspiring but at the same time relatable. She needs to be able to hold her own in any situation, whilst executing herself in a gracious and genuine manner. A woman who has a very unique aura about her – one that is noticeable from the minute she walks into a room.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
I was made aware of the Miss South Africa pageant in 2009 when I was nine years old and met Vanessa Carreira at a dancing competition I attended in Sun City. Her grace and poise and all round love and kindness for the people around her was truly a magical experience for me. Vanessa was the very first Miss South Africa who made a huge impact in inspiring me to become that woman I was so fascinated by. However, over the past few years each and every Miss South Africa has had an impact on me in one way or another; each possessing different qualities that are inspiring.

Who are your role models?
I honestly cannot point out one particular person. It is more of a collection of people who have inspired me in some way along my journey through life. The most important people would have to be my mother and my grandmother. These two women are the epitome of bravery, courage and love. Brave because of the incredibly difficult obstacles that have been thrown at them, courageous for picking up the pieces and still enjoying the best that life has to offer them and loving because no matter what the circumstance, every person that crosses their path is left feeling appreciated and worthy. That to me is inspiring and something worth striving for.

Tell us a bit more about your family?
Something that people would be surprised to know about me and speaking about my family – I was adopted at the age of two. My father passed away in a terrible robbery when I was just nine months old and my mother died in a car accident when I was two. My mother’s sister, along with her husband, adopted me without a second thought. I will forever be grateful for their love and support and for raising me to be the woman I am today. They do however live in Thailand and have been for the past 11 years. I am the “laat lammetjie” of the family and have two brothers and two sisters who are all older and married with children.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love finding hidden gems for outdoor activities or restaurants. I am a real foodie and absolutely love trying different cuisines. I have two dogs that I love spoiling and taking for walks and that stems from my love for animals. I thoroughly enjoy visiting game parks and having the privilege of witnessing our beautiful animals in the wild.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Every woman needs to be strong and assertive but it’s also very important to be educated and aware of current issues. The message is to be relevant in an ever changing country. As a young woman, never shy away from your true worth. I will always remember something Liesl Laurie said in an interview “It does not matter where you come from, but what ultimately matters is where you are going.”

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Caster Semenya, because she is the epitome of a strong woman who isn’t affected by the comments of others. She did what in her heart was right and she was always true to herself. This is a quality Miss SA should have. This is a quality all women should have – the ability to remain true to yourself when everybody else thinks you should change.

What are you reading?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

What music are you listening to?
The music I listen to depends on the mood I am in at the time or the mood I would like to be in. I am not really fussy. Examples would be Black Coffee, Bastille, Chainsmokers and Hillsong.

You Favourite TV show?

Grey’s Anatomy

Your favourite meal?
Italian melanzane parmigiana and bobotie

What is your favourite quote?
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
IMAN MKWANAZI – LENASIA, GAUTENG
Age: 26
Occupation: I own a construction company (Mkweni Ground Works) and I’m a professional model.
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I am a representation of the modern day South African women, I want to let women especially young women know that they do not have to limit themselves to one characteristic; you can be beautiful, intelligent and kind simultaneously. I come from Lenasia which is an Indian dominated region but I never let the colour of my skin or my struggles limit my development. I want to inspire women young and old to reach their greatest potential and to believe in themselves so strongly that they can accomplish anything and everything they put their mind too. I believe my passion and determination to the empowerment of women is what I will bring to the role of Miss South Africa. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a part of an event that holds so much history and that celebrates women and their beauty.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa needs to have qualities such as empathy, an open mind and the ability to listen. She must be attentive, be able to remain composed, respectful and humane. We must never forget that we are dealing with people; we must always treat people kindly for we don’t know what struggles they are going through.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Basetsana Kumalo is my favourite Miss South Africa. Above and beyond being beautiful she has managed to become a formidable force in business. She did not limit herself; she juggles being a mother, an entrepreneur and so much more.

Who are your role models?
Dr Anna Mokgokong, a South African businesswoman who is internationally recognised for her entrepreneurial skills; Florence Matomela, Winnie Mandela, Jay Alexander, Helen Joseph, Albertina Sisulu, Lillian Ngoyi the list goes on. These women have all taught me ambition, persistence, determination and resilience. They taught me to fight for my equality no matter what, and most of all they taught what it is to give without expecting; Phumzile Ngcuka and Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; these women show me regularly that we can create a social impact not only in South Africa but Africa and the world.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My mom and dad are retired. They divorced early in my childhood and I grew up with my father; he’s my best friend. I have three brothers: Khalid works with social initiatives, Omar owns his own carpentry and building company and Salim is a lab technician at DSM. I love my siblings and family, I truly value them and often I don’t put them out on social media because not everyone has good intentions. I can only protect them from that which is in my control.

What do you do in your spare time?
I read, I’m trying to discover new types of cuisine so restaurant hunting, gallery viewings and hiking.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
There will always be people who will undermine you to blanket their own insecurities, don’t let them win. You are glorious, golden and capable. Our political heroes fought for us to have opportunities; let their blood, sweat and tears stand for more. We need to make them proud through development and action. Women form the majority of the South African population; we need take over and start building for the future generation of South African women. The future of not only SA but the world are women. It’s our time.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Winnie Mandela who, together with many of the other women who lead our struggle to equality and empowerment of women. I believe that she has so much knowledge to lend to Miss South Africa as she continues in her path to creating a difference. I want to know if we are the women she envisioned when she fought through the struggle. If not, where did we go wrong and how can we improve?

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m actually really shy, so shy when I get compliments my face goes all shades of red.

What are you reading?
I Write What I Like by Steve Biko

What music are you listening to?
Ed Sheeran

Your

Favourite TV show?

The Blacklist

Your favourite meal?
Eggs Benedict from Tasha’s

What is your favourite quote?
You give but little when you give your possessions, it is when you give of yourself that you have truly given – Khalil Gibran

JESSICA TOVEY – RANDPARKRIDGE, GAUTENG
Age: 23
Occupation: Speech therapist and audiologist in community service
Previous beauty competitions: Face of Clearwater Mall 2015 (winner) and Miss SA teen 2011(top 12).
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I want to be Miss SA because I believe everything has lead me to this point in my life and Miss SA is part of my purpose. Miss SA is not a means to an end but rather a journey to continuous positive change. Miss SA is the epitome of a woman of soulful beauty that will influence the people of SA wherever she goes. I believe that I am ready to take on that role and advance the Miss SA Brand. I have always had a passion for people living with disabilities and so as Miss SA 2017 I feel that I will have a platform to make a difference to this community. As a speech therapist and audiologist I interact with people living with disabilities every day and I see the way that not only they react to it but how those around them react to disability. I want to change the perceptions surrounding those living with disabilities and I would love to be an ambassador for not only our country but for this community and to take it to a global level. No previous Miss SA has had this as their social responsibility and therefore I believe it will bring a new perspective to the Miss SA brand.

What qualities do you believe a Miss SA should possess?
I believe that a Miss SA should be the essence of a strong woman. She should have a soulful beauty that radiates outward. Miss SA needs to be approachable, fun-loving with a strong mind-set, yet touched with grace and elegance. Miss SA needs to be well spoken, reliable, confident and respectful of the opportunity set in front of her.

Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you?
Miss SA 2012 Melinda Bam is someone who has always inspired me. I have been fortunate enough to meet her on a few occasions and she was always approachable and made everyone feel like someone which is an important quality to possess as a Miss SA. I feel that she really embraced the opportunity of Miss SA and achieved a lot in her reign and was able to carry this over and build on it. She not only left a lasting legacy but is continuing that legacy.

Who are your role models?
The first is Maya Angelou, she is one of those profoundly wise women who leaves you in awe every time you read about her or hear about her. She inspires me because she is the epitome of a strong woman who overcame adversaries with love and wisdom and used her story and her passion to make the world a better place.
My dad inspires me because he is living proof that you can achieve anything you set your heart to and has instilled in me the fundamental skills and values that can help you get there. My dad inspires me because he is a dreamer and a doer who doesn’t put a limit on anything set before him. Lastly, Eddie Ndopu. Eddie is a fairly new inspiration that has come about but when I first heard his story it was one that moved me. Eddie is a SA disability rights activist who is breaking all boundaries of people living with disabilities. He inspires me because he shares my passion and he is making positive waves in the world that can only bring about positive change.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My dad is Neil Tovey and is currently the technical director at the SA Football Association (SAFA). He was the Bafana Bafana soccer captain during the 1996 AFCON victory. He gave me my blue eyes, a kind nature and always taught me to never compare myself with anybody else but to always do my best and improve on my own abilities. My mom is Nadine and works for the Reach for a Dream Foundation. She gave me my olive Mauritian skin and independent nature. My mom has always been an example of sacrificing your own needs for others. I have a sister Bianca who is 27 and is working in the design industry. She is my best friend and always taught me to be there for those around you. My brother is 20-year-old Sheldon who is finishing his last year of school. When he was 18 months old he accidentally got burnt from hot water. This resulted in learning disabilities and a hearing loss in both his ears as well as some physical disabilities. My brother is the one who inspired me to enter into the career path I did and is the prime example that a disability shouldn’t stop you from doing something you love. My parents are divorced but I am so blessed that they have retained an amazing relationship for the benefit of their children.

What do you do in your spare time?
I really enjoy going to gym, shopping, and reading (especially self-empowerment books)

What is your message to young girls and young women in SA?
“When you know better you do better.” I want young girls and women of SA to realise their potential of growth and to know you are not defined by your past or who you are at present but rather hold the key to changing your future and the future of those around you through knowledge, learning and self-empowerment.

If you won the Miss SA crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would love to meet Ellen Degeneres. She is someone who is very charismatic with a positive energy but will also take the time to affirm others and make a difference to those around her. I think she would be able to give great advice on how to grab opportunities with both hands and bring about good from them, whilst still having fun. Her kind nature is magnetic and as Miss SA there are a few projects that I would love to get her input on and possibly her involvement in as well.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Something people might be surprised to know about me is that although my eyes are blue they change to different shades of blue.

What are you reading?
You Can, You Will by Joel Osteen as well as The Magic by Rhonda Byrne

What music are you listening to?
Matthew Mole, Black Coffee – anything you find on radio at the moment. I’m also a real lover of old school music.

Your Favourite TV show?

Friends. I watch it over and over. It’s a real classic that never goes out of style.

Your favourite meal?
I love food in general but my favourite would be seafood

What is your favourite quote?
Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

KAYLA MALHERBE – MTUNZINI, KWA ZULU NATAL
Age: 21
Occupation: Model
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I want to be Miss South Africa because I feel that I could help young women understand that it’s not what you have on the outside but what’s inside. Young people today are so consumed with social media and always in competition with one another that they don’t realise what is actually going on around them. I want to also help people who have addictions. I want to get children off the streets and give them a better life that they deserve.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
I believe that a Miss South Africa should always be true to who she is. She should have a heart of gold and want to help every person she comes across. She should not only be beautiful but also inspire the whole of South Africa to want to make a change for the better.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Rolene Strauss who is not only incredibly beautiful but also a new mother, is busy studying medicine and still very involved in her charities. That is a lot to deal with but she does it with grace. She is the definition of beauty with a purpose

Who are your role models?
My grandfather because he is a very successful businessman and has been the father figure in my life and taught me exactly how a man treats a woman. He has so much love for everyone close to him. He loves animals and the nature just as much as I do and has an environmental company called Acer.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My mother is a single mom. I am an only child.

What do you do in your spare time?
I look after children in my town and I help out at the little school. I love children.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
You don’t have to be like everyone else, be yourself. There is so much pressure on young women today to look like those models in glamour and fashion magazines.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Charlize Theron, because she is an incredible woman who inspires women from South Africa to always keep that dream alive and have faith that dreams do come true. She supports a number of animal and children charities here in South Africa that are close to my heart.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m really quite shy

What music are you listening to?
Ed Sheeran and Mike Posner

Your Favourite TV show?

Grey’s Anatomy

Your favourite meal?
Anything with steak or chicken

What is your favourite quote?
Life goes on

KEIPEILE DINTOE – SAULSVILLE, PRETORIA, GAUTENG
Age: 25
Occupation: Data analyst

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I am passionate about empowering young women, I want to be the voice of reason but most importantly I want to help young women view life from a different perspective

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa should be caring and empathetic. She should be a person that always wants to lend a helping hand. She should be a person that gives you a hand up, not a hand out.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Basetsana Kumalo, because after being crowned Miss SA she went on to become a successful businesswoman, philanthropist and has built a sustainable brand. She is a true example of hard work and dedication.

Who are your role models?
My role model is my mom. Although she has been through a lot of ups and downs I have never seen her give up. Maybe my mom didn’t want to disappoint us or let us down or maybe she never quit in front of us, whatever her reason, I know she has never backed down from a challenge which is what inspires me to always keep going no matter how hard or difficult life gets. She is such a spiritual person; her faith and belief in God is amazing.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My mom is a dressmaker and currently self-employed. My dad passed away in 1991. I have one sibling, an older brother.

What do you do in your spare time?
I absolutely love watching series. I could sit in my bedroom the whole day and just watch series back to back.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
You are not what happened to you, you are what you choose to become. I believe that no-one can dictate to you what you can and cannot do or become. If you set your mind to doing something and achieving it no matter how hard it might be, you will always find it in yourself to push harder and harder each day. There is nothing more rewarding than the feeling of accomplishment, especially when you achieve something when people have said it would be impossible. As the saying goes: “Nothing is impossible, even the word says “I’m possible”.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would love to meet Somizi Mhlongo because he is an inspiration to me to live my life the best way that I know how.

He lives and loves freely, he is caring and daring. He does what is best for him and not what people would like him to do or say. He lives in the moment responsibly. He is a true fighter for the LGBTI community and does not say “I am openly gay but the rest of the LGBTI community need to fight their own battles because I did”. He embraces all the beauty in life and will always acknowledge other people who have done well. I love how he has accomplished so much but yet wants to achieve so much more. He is a force to be reckoned with and a true inspirational leader.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I enjoy cleaning, I find it to be very relaxing and I really enjoy being in a clean space as it also helps me think clearly.

What are you reading?
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne

What music are you listening to?
Amanda Black – Amazulu

Your Favourite TV show?

Idols SA

Your favourite meal?
Pasta

What is your favourite quote?
“The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your hands”

LOU-MARIE TALJAARD – BELLVILLE, CAPE TOWN, WESTERN CAPE
Age: 23
Occupation: I’m a full time international model for Ice Models in Cape Town.
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I do believe that all your dreams and aspirations are already granted to you, you already have all the attributes to fulfil the dreams you have and the goals you set, you just have to pursue it diligently. I always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and with the Miss South Africa platform I can work hard, focus and work towards fulfilling my ambition to make a difference and be my country’s ambassador, to the best of my ability. I have been fortunate to travel the world and meet some of the most amazing people along the way and what I found – through gaining knowledge about myself and other people – is that I would be able to bring to the role as Miss South Africa my compassionate heart. I do believe that a loving, compassionate heart is something that you can’t teach yourself to have, something that you can’t pretend to have but rather something that you are born with. It is something that I believe I have a lot of for my country and the people I’m sharing this beautiful land with.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
She needs to be self-assured and know her true self. Knowing you strengths and weaknesses and being aware of these attributes, including your emotional stability, will help you control your actions and positively affect any outcome. Integrity, having strong values, beliefs, ethics and character allows those around you to clearly see your intentions and see your strong moral principles. It also makes it possible for others to identify with you and helps you to build lasting trust and loyalty in others.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Rolene Strauss definitely inspired me to enter. Not only is she humble and down to earth, she is also someone that set goals and worked hard to accomplish it without giving up. She inspired me to pursue the passion I have to be a voice behind the work I do.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
Mother Teresa. I admire her heart, her values and her unfailing love for humanity and children. She always put everyone else’s need above her own. She is someone who never expected anything in return all she wanted to do was to help those in need.
Tell us a bit more about your family?
I’m the youngest of three and have an older sister who runs a successful business in Hermanus where she helps children with learning and reading programmes. She is also the mother of a beautiful boy whom I adore and love to spoil. My brother is 28 and also a successful entrepreneur owning his own business, and will soon be married to his fiancé. My mom and dad are both in the insurance industry and I’m fortunate enough to have my grandmother staying with us.

What do you do in your spare time?
I like to have me-time. I find it very therapeutic to do my nails, put on a face mask and just be around my own space. I also like to write what I call appreciation messages to all my friends and family. I love to make people feel special when they least expect it.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
That whatever dreams you have or whatever aspirations or goals you set are never too big to accomplish. Things get done by hard work and persistence and with that you can truly accomplish any goal you set. Always stay true to yourself, never sacrifice your integrity – there is only one you and that makes you unique and powerful.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Thuli Madonsela is someone that I would definitely like to meet, I watched a show about her a while ago on TV and I was completely blown away by what she has accomplished. She is one of the most courageous women in South Africa. I was surprised how she could be such a dynamic woman and still have a calmness around her which makes it impossible not to want to be in her presence.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People are surprised when I tell them that I can sometime be shy, especially being in the industry that I’m in. But I always manage to put on a brave face and pep talk myself through my shyness.

What are you reading?
I like reading inspirational books and quotes. It’s a great way to enrich your life – by reading other people’s previous life lessons and their words of wisdom. I’m busy reading The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari. It’s a book that is teaching me to live life one day at a time and help me cultivate self-discipline and to act courageously, and to follow my life’s mission.

What music are you listening to?
I love music; I don’t have specific tastes. I’ll listen to my local radio station’s music in my car while driving. Sometimes I prefer more calming music to help me unwind and sometimes I enjoy Afrikaans music while having a braai with my family or friends.

Your Favourite TV show?

I don’t follow any TV shows at the moment. I don’t spend a lot of time in front of my television or laptop when I’m home.

Your favourite meal?
My grandma’s Sunday lunch with lamb chops and all my favourite vegetables like broccoli and pumpkin, followed by malva pudding and homemade custard for dessert.

What is your favourite quote?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” – Maya Angelou

MICHELLE KRUGER – WITBANK, MPUMALANGA
Age: 21
Occupation: I am a second year BA Law student at the University of Pretoria
Previous beauty competitions: N/A
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
This has been a dream of mine since the age of 10 years old. I believe my purpose in life is to make a difference and make my mark in the world, thus the Miss South Africa competition would fit perfectly into my life goal as I would perhaps not change the whole world but make a change in small measures.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
A Miss South Africa should be steadfast, outspoken, a leader, a people’s person as well as a team player. However, I do believe the most important quality of a Miss South Africa should be to remain humble throughout her journey and thereafter.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Claudia Henkel. My dream to become Miss South Africa began in 2005 when I met Claudia at the Miss South Africa crowning. I can remember my astonishment being in her presence and dreaming of also become a Miss South Africa one day and being a role-model for young girls and women as she is to me.

Who are your role models?
I look up to Rolene Strauss as well as Basetsana Kumalo because they are both an inspiration to me to live my dream as a Miss South Africa. My role model is my mother because she is an example of unconditional love. I believe I inherited my qualities from my mom such as kindness and compassion for all.

Tell us a bit more about your family?
My father owns his own company called HB Abrasives and Mining Supplies, and my mother works as a manager for my dad. My father is a keen golfer and my mom runs the household which also consists of six dogs and five cats as well as two African grey parrots. It is quite clear that our family has a soft spot for animals. I have an older sister who works as a personal assistant for my dad’s company. Even though she is five years older than me, we have a very close family bond and friendship.

What do you do in your spare time?
I prefer to stay active in my spare time so my weekly routine includes running, yoga and hiking. I am definitely an adventure seeker thus I always scout for new activities. I also make time for my family and going to the mall to go shopping and then dinner and a movie with my friends.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
To avoid striving to reach the false picture society and social media created of being perfect. Rather be yourself and always keep in mind that another person’s beauty is not the absence of your own beauty.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Basetsana Kumalo because her career is exactly what I strive to reach one day. Her journey inspires me because her ambition to reach her goals proves that anything is possible when you work hard. I would love to discuss her experience as a Miss South Africa, as well as her career afterwards.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I played Dezi the waitress in season 10 of Getroud met Rugby.

What are you reading?
I am currently reading seven novels, namely: Things Fall Apart, Purple Hibiscus, Black Diamond, Age of Iron, The Buddha in the Attic, The God of Small Things and The Complete Maus. I am studying BA Law, which has English as a compulsory subject which requires me to read all seven novels.

What music are you listening to?
I am currently a huge fan of our local artists such as Goldfish and Kyle Watson. I really enjoy music that puts me in a good mood, so I listen to anything with a beat that I can dance to.

Your Favourite TV show?

The Mentalist.

Your favourite meal?
Pasta.

What is your favourite quote?
“Rule your mind or it will rule you”. To me this quote means that your mind is powerful in the sense that it has the capacity to overcome and bring victory. If you can conquer your mental being, you can conquer anything in the world.

MILANIE CILLIERS – MOKOPANE, LIMPOPO
Name: Milanie Cilliers
Region: Limpopo
Age: 22
Occupation: Junior content editor at VENDS, a global social media company. Student in fashion at Intec College.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants: Miss Campus (North-West University) 2nd runner-up 2012; Miss Vergeet-My-Nie (North-West University Residence) winner 2013 and Miss Earth South Africa 3rd runner-up 2015

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
My dream is to contribute towards the future of our country by encouraging entrepreneurship and skills development among young people. I believe that the Miss South Africa platform will enable me to fulfil this purpose. Growing up I was blessed to have experienced a combination of the world of tourism and business, which contributed greatly towards who I am today and my outlook on life. I believe that a woman with a clear purpose, compassion for people and sense of business can move mountains.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
A Miss South Africa should be a confident woman who is able to represent her country with integrity in every action, tenacity in what needs to be achieved and compassion for people.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Joan Madibeng. She has continued to make an impact on the country long after her year of reign with her “anything is possible” attitude. Being a businesswomen, philanthropist, wife and mother is no easy task and I admire her balanced lifestyle.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
My father, Peet Cilliers. He came from humble beginnings, growing up in an orphanage. With perseverance he worked his way up to become a successful lawyer and businessman. He is a visionary who believes in the power of gratitude and the importance of helping others on the road to success. His drive and positive outlook on life has inspired me to also one day pursue a career in business.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My parents own a hotel group where my father serves as the CEO and my mother as the managing director. My father is a real family man with a great sense of humour and more wisdom than King Solomon himself. Integrity is the first word that comes to mind when I think of my mother. She is kind, elegant and caring but in the workplace, she a force to be reckoned with. I am the youngest of three daughters; my eldest sister Therese is a qualified advocate, currently working as a COO. My middle sister Rina is a sales and marketing manager. She is my daily inspiration, humble, kind-hearted and also my best friend.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love to travel to Limpopo and spend time on the game reserve, going on game drives, hiking, doing outdoor activities and reading inspirational books. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends, especially tea-time with my grandparents.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Believe in yourself and your abilities challenge the status quo and don’t let fear keep you from chasing your dreams.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Thuli Madonsela. She has been one of the most influential women in South Africa and it would be an absolute honour to meet a woman who has been so fearless in pursuit of the truth in the best interest of the country.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I grew up on a Big 5 Game Reserve and I’ve probably had every pet you could ever imagine.

What are you reading?
Life without Limits by Nick Vujicic.

What music are you listening to?
Music inspires me. This is why I love listening to anything from classical to golden oldies to local music. Coldplay would however always remain one of my all-time favourites.

Your Favourite TV show?

It is so difficult to choose only one. Anything that adds a bit of humour to the day like Friends, Big Bang Theory and Hotel (Kyknet).

Your favourite meal?
A hearty home cooked South African meal with roast meat, veggies and potato salad.

What is your favourite quote?
“All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney
Anything else you would like to add?
Even though I’m a country girl at heart, I’ve had the privilege of travelling the world with my family. This has broadened my vision and has opened my eyes to how special this “World-in-one” country we call home is. It has also made me realise that a platform like Miss South Africa is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a meaningful impact on our society.

NICOLE VAN NIEKERK – MÔREGLOED, PRETORIA, GAUTENG
Age: 26
Occupation: Events planner (specialising in children’s parties), part time model and au-pair.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants): Miss Pretoria 2012 – 1St Princess, Miss Jacaranda Show 2013 – 1st Princess and Miss Rivonia 2013 – Top 10

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I have always watched Miss South Africa on TV with my mom and sister and dreamed about being on that stage with the glamorous gowns, but as I grew older I realised that being Miss South Africa is more than the glamourous dresses, it is about being a role model, being able to help others and inspiring young women that their dreams can come true. Helping them realise their potential and giving them hope for the future and that is something I am passionate about. As Miss SA I would also use the platform to give more awareness to bullying as I feel that this issue is often overlooked.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa should be someone who is humble, kind and caring. She must also be resilient, driven and ambitious.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
I remember reading about Claudia Henkel at an event, there was this little girl that was scared to get off the jungle gym, so she climbed up to help the girl. Claudia was dressed in white but did not care that she got dirty and had to take photos for the media sitting down. That just showed me how humble and caring she is, she did not worry about the media only about that girl and her safety. Rolene Strauss will also forever be a woman who inspired others, even after winning the Miss World crown she stayed true to herself and kept her feet on the ground.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
To be honest I must say that it is my mother; she is always there for us and would do anything for her family. And also the fact that she got her degree in iridology at the age of 54 years old, that is when I realised that your age does not limit your potential and that hard work pays off.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My mother Isabel van Niekerk is a remarkable woman. My father is Sakkie van Niekerk – one of the nicest person you will ever meet – is the chief technician at Necsa. I am the youngest of four children – my oldest brother Rohan and I are exactly 10 years apart (we share the same birthday). He and his family live in Henties Bay in Namibia. My sister Aletia is married with three children for whom I am the proud godmother to all three. And my brother Michael is studying BSc Computing at Unisa and works at Otomys Software Solutions.

What do you do in your spare time?
I like spending time with my family. I recently found a ballet school that offered ballet classes for adults, and since I always wanted to do ballet I knew that I had to try, needless to say that I love it! Not only do I get exercise but I also enjoy learning something new every week. I also enjoy spending time with my labrador Kaylee.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
You have to be your best self to live your best life. I want to inspire girls to be the truest version of themselves and to love who they are.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would love to meet Thuli Madonsela, I think she did a great job at being the Public Protector of South Africa and I respect that she stood by her moral standings. I would also love to meet Michelle Obama; I just think that she is a force to be reckoned with.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
That I have a fear of heights. I also find it that people are always surprised by the fact that I am a vegetarian.

What are you reading?
I recently started reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers – a must read!

What music are you listening to?
I start my mornings listening to worship songs by streaming some videos on YouTube from Hillsong, Bethel etc. But I really do enjoy a variety of genres from pop music to classical music.

Your Favourite TV show?

Suits.

Your favourite meal?
I love all vegetables! Oh, and pasta. If you give me pasta with mixed veggie I am a very happy woman

What is your favourite quote?
“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25. I also recently heard this somewhere and it stuck with me – “It’s not where you come from, but what you grow into.”

NOMPUMELELO MAMPHOLO – DIEPKLOOF, SOWETO, GAUTENG
Age: 20
Occupation: I am a shareholder in Conquerors, an event and management company
Previous beauty competitions: Miss South Africa Youth 2015 (winner) and Miss Tourism Universe South Africa (top 5)
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
Miss South Africa is a platform for one to build a legacy and I’m here to build mine. Not only is it a dream and passion to be an ambassador of this nation but Miss South Africa is a life changing opportunity. Winning a million rand will enable me to go back to school and complete my studies. I am very passionate about sports and working with people. My reason for entering is to change lives through sports and that’s the role I’m bringing to the table.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa should be a woman of substance who has the courage to overcome tough times in her life and pursue her goals because she stands up for what she believes in; possess leadership qualities by having a selfless heart and always be willing to reach out and lend a helping hand. She should leave a legacy by contributing beyond herself and find and take part in activities connected with making the world a better place to live in. As Mahatma Ghandi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Rolene Strauss has a presence and she reminds me that everyone is destined to push for excellence wherever they are.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
My mother (Grace), father (Ali), older sister (Nonkululeko), grandfather (Reuben) and grandmother (Mpopiki). Their attitude and dedication towards work inspires me.

Tell us a bit more about your family?
My father has been working in the field of arts, culture and heritage for the last 30 years. He started as an actor then an arts administrator and currently he is the deputy director of museums in the City of Johannesburg. My mother is a sergeant in the South Africa Police. My sister is currently doing her articles in accounting and looking forward to completing her second board exam in November. Seven year old Njabulo and Ofentse are my younger twin siblings

What do you do in your spare time?
I love spending time with the people that I love, playing sports, going to the gym, and reading inspirational books.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
My message to young girls and the youth as a whole is that your destiny is there, it is waiting for you. Always remember that you never have to go through anything alone. Find someone to talk to.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
The President. One of my biggest dreams growing up was to become the first female president of South Africa. However, my desire to meet him now follows a lot that has been said about the leader of our nation. I would like to know from him what being the face of the nation means and how he handles it because it can’t be easy to lead a whole nation.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know?
Growing up I used to be a real tomboy.

What are you reading?
Black Diamond by Zakes Mda.

What music are you listening to?
Lauren Hill

Your Favourite TV show?

Suits.

Your favourite meal?
Chicken biryani

What is your favourite quote?
“Never limit yourself, we live in a limitless world with endless possibilities never say you can’t and never give up.” – Rashida Rowe

NTOMBIKAYISE MSIMANGO – SPRINGS, GAUTENG
Age: 21
Occupation: Student (currently studying my final year in BA Law and looking forward to starting my LLB next year)
Previous beauty competitions/pageants: Miss Best Legs 2005; Miss Mamelodi Sundown Gauteng First Princess 2014; Miss Mamelodi Sundown National First Princess 2014; Miss Eastgate Look of Fashion First Princess 2015 and Miss Varsity Cup Winner 2016

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
Being Miss South Africa has been a dream of mine since childhood. Pageantry in itself has catalysed the realisation of my aspirations, not only in the modelling industry but also helped me in other avenues such as self-growth, meeting new people and building everlasting relationships. I hold earning the title of Miss South Africa as a privilege and, as much as I can be an asset to the organisation, the title can propel my career. I entered because I genuinely want to make a notable and sustainable difference in the lives of South Africans on a national and international level by being extensively involved where I can.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa should believe in the pageant and its cause and should be authentic and sincere. As a role model and brand ambassador of a country and its people, it is important to be relatable and embrace our African philosophy of Ubuntu. Finally, Miss South Africa should be a woman strong in character and confident but also have a soft and nurturing nature.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Basetsana Kumalo has to be my biggest inspiration. I am inspired by the way she has monopolised multiple industries and taken her title to greater heights. She is a phenomenal woman in her own right and stops at nothing, having gone from Miss Soweto, then Miss South Africa and from being a presenter on Top Billing to owning a percentage of the production company amongst many other achievements. She is a true inspiration not only to future Miss South Africas, but to all women.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
My mother and sister are my role models. Never have I had to look far for motivation, counsel or inspiration because it has always been under the same roof or only a phone call away. I have the utmost respect for them and appreciate having them as blessings in my life. Both have always set a good example for me, from the way I should dress, present myself and treat others. They are my confidants, pillars of strength and support system, and I can honestly say I would not be the person I am today if it weren’t for them.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My mother has been a single mother for 22 years after my father tragically passed away in 1994, five months before my birth. However, she has proven to be one of the strongest willed women I know and admire. She too was a pageant queen. I am the last born of four. My sister Wendy is raising a beautiful family with her husband, while the two most important men in my life are my older brothers Thulani and Thokozani.

What do you do in your spare time?
I usually dedicate my spare time to spending it with friends and family. We all live such a fast-paced life that we rarely have time for each other. Other than that I enjoy watching movies, going to the park or exploring new places to enjoy with friends – especially if there is sushi involved.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.” We cannot accept circumstance to be a way to justify not being able to do something that we want to. Passion is the only driving force and with that in mind, any obstacle can be conquered. This is a message I would like women to carry with them, so that there is never a doubt in their minds that they can achieve anything they set out to do.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Meeting Oprah Winfrey would be a privilege. The manner in which she has led her life has always amazed me. She never let circumstances or her past dictate her future. I would like to have a private and genuine conversation with her. I think there are many things to learn from such an exceptional being, whether it is business related or a life lesson.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People would probably be surprised that I have quite a decent singing voice.

What are you reading?
Achmat Dangor’s Bitter Fruit, a novel about the history and lives of South Africans and the TRC.

What music are you listening to?
I prefer not to limit myself to a specific genre of music. Music as a whole is amazing and I enjoy finding new artists or songs, whether it is deep house music, RnB, hip hop, jazz or electronic dance music.

Your Favourite TV show?

I do not have a specific favourite TV show. I am one of those people friends come to, to look for new things to watch because I simply enjoy being exposed to a variety of things that could broaden my perspective.

Your favourite meal?
Being such a foodie, it is quite difficult to settle on one favourite meal; however I can honestly say that I could definitely live off my mother’s stew and dumpling.

What is your favourite quote?
“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” – Nelson Mandela

Anything else you would like to add?
Something I would like to achieve with this journey is bringing to light the difficulties of children with learning disabilities. I know how neglected this is, having a family member affected.

ODIRILE SEPENG – MAPOBANE, PRETORIA, GAUTENG
Age: 23
Occupation: BCom Law student at Varsity College
Previous beauty competitions/pageants: Miss Varsity College Midrand 2014 and Miss Veet South Africa 2015

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I believe that Miss South Africa offers young South African women an extraordinary support system that enables them to forge ahead, supported by divine strength. Miss South Africa offers me a platform to continue to serve others and to share the meaning of life. I have many passions: youth development, women empowerment, care and support for people living with mental health issues.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa needs to be someone who understands that she has a national platform with unlimited capacity to inspire all South Africans. She has to be relatable, organised and a people’s person. She takes on a role as a committed representative to her sponsors and so she is required to conduct herself in a manner that radiates a sense of gratitude and humbleness. She must be beautiful inside and out, fearless, brave and confident.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Joan Ramagoshi. I am inspired by how she has used her platform to establish and build a successful career in the corporate industry. At the same time, she still embodies and captures the values of a Miss South Africa – confident, beautiful, fearless and intelligent.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
My grandmother and my mother. Life becomes about overcoming adversity and I have watched them overcome so many things in their lives and yet they are still able to smile and rise up. It is through their sacrifices and endurance that I am the woman that I am today. I am a strong woman raised by strong women.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
As a child nothing mattered to me more than the people I looked up to and the love I received. I was raised by my grandparents, Rose and Isaac Sepeng, from my mother’s side. They are simple people, who spent majority of their lives in Mabopane. My grandfather was a clerk for a medical aid firm and my grandmother is a retired domestic worker. They are the epitome of good people. They have brightened up my life with warmth and kindness. They have always welcomed people of different walks, who spoke different languages and held different beliefs into our home and in that way I am inspired to be as generous and as compassionate as they are.

What do you do in your spare time?
I am a creative so I enjoy drawing and painting. I am interested in photography. I always say that the best days are unplanned, random and spontaneous, so a hike with friends or a picnic at the park is always a good idea.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
You are a beautiful creation. Perfectly imperfect. You have everything within you to fulfil your purpose. Today is yours to shape, so own it, follow your dreams and grab opportunities.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The first female elected head of state in Africa who was later awarded with a Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work. I believe she is a phenomenal leader and I would take the opportunity to tap into her wisdom.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I am a Latin American and ballroom dancer

What are you reading?
I read my law books. When I do need a dose of inspiration, I reference one of my favourite books, The Secret by Rhonda Bryne.

What music are you listening to?
Deep house music

Your Favourite TV show?

Suits.

Your favourite meal?
For someone who once took a big bite into what looked like an avocado, when it was actually wasabi, I have surprisingly become a big sushi lover. Sushi is easy to share and it definitely makes a great choice when spending time with friends.

What is your favourite quote?
“To whom much is given, much will be required” Luke 12:48. We are held responsible for what we have. If we are blessed with talents, knowledge, time and the like, it is expected that we use these well to glorify God and to benefit others.

Anything else you would like to add?
There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty

OLIN-SHAE DE LA CRUZ – CLAREMONT, CAPE TOWN, WESTERN CAPE
Age: 22
Occupation: I work on a part-time basis with a youth marketing company called HDI Youth Marketers. I am a brand activator and presenter for various brand campaigns and roadshows.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants entered and placed in:
In 2013 I entered Miss Earth South Africa and made it through to the semi-finals.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
A keen interest and conviction in the causes she strongly believes in. She needs to work well with others and be a team player. She needs to have an enthusiastic approach to all areas even those not in her interests and therefore have an open mind. She needs to be a people’s person, sincere, and graceful in her actions. She also needs to be not only beautiful on the outside but have a heart of gold and true to who she is.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
There hasn’t been one previous Miss South Africa that has inspired me to enter, but rather a selection of previous winners for the below reasons: In 1993 Jacqui Mofokeng, who was the first Black South African to win and that was before the change in democracy, so the fact that she was able to win then, is proof that all things are possible, especially knowing South Africa’s political stance at the time. Also, Rolene Strauss I think is definitely an inspiration to many as she won the Miss World title too.

Tell us a bit more about your family?
I have two older sisters and three older brothers. Both of my parents were previously married. With my dad’s first marriage he had four children, two of which are twins -Carolyn and Cameron – and both based in Cape Town. My sister Carolyn was married to former Everton Football player Patrick Van Den Hauwe. My second sister is former South African model Jacqui De La Cruz and is married to an Englishman and living in England with her three children. My brother Juan is a doctor based in Upington. During my mom’s first marriage she only had one child – Avin (30) who is a restaurant manager in Cape Town. After both of them got a divorce, my parents- Karin Ford and Dennis De La Cruz (an ex-parliamentary member as opposition leader in 1985-1995), married and had a child named Dylan Thomas De La Cruz who I unfortunately didn’t get to meet as he passed away at just four months old. Two years later I arrived on the scene. I have a very unique and diverse family. Firstly my dad is 76 years old making my siblings from his side very much older than me. On my dad’s side there is Spanish and Cape Malay Asian decent while my mom has German blood. All my aunts on my dad’s side have converted to Muslim, and one of my cousins married a Japanese, so I have Japanese cousins. I am thankful for my colourful family as it has exposed me to various cultures and religions.

What do you do in your spare time?
I used to jog and hike, but after moving to Johannesburg I found myself in the gym and mostly reading text books for my studies. I don’t enjoy clubs but I do enjoy the social scene.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Have self-confidence and belief in your abilities to achieve all that you can. Women are always under-estimated and we are a force to be reckoned with. So use your unique gift and ability to shine and share your knowledge with others, build up your fellow man. Hold judgement, instead of putting others down let them rise alongside you as there is no greater feeling than giving a helping hand.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Oprah Winfrey. She has been an inspiration and has united both men and women of all races. She has helped an array of people – those in impoverished areas; she has given money to the poor and advice to business people. Her power cannot be matched, and to be in her presence would be an absolute honour; to engage and take something valuable from her remarkable life. I find her to be extremely selfless.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
People would probably be most surprised that I was pescetarian for five years of my life.

What are you reading?
My reading time is consumed with text books, so I’m not reading anything at the moment. The last book I read was called Tuesdays with Morrie.

What music are you listening to?
I like indie pop, but I also enjoy the instrumental formation of beats that has no lyrics. I find the lyrics in music influences my feelings whereas music without lyrics allows me to think and appreciate the sound which is less like noise and more like art. There is this podcast that I enjoy listening to called Soullection which introduces me to up and coming or undiscovered international talent which I enjoy.

Your Favourite TV show?

This one is difficult! I do enjoy learning about the human body (Botched, Embarrassing Bodies, Monsters Inside Me); crime shows, cooking programmes (Chopped), as well as Natural History and reality TV shows.

Your favourite meal?
I enjoy a good braai with my mother’s basting sauce. But my favourite meal is any stew!

What is your favourite quote?
“There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living” – Nelson Mandela.

PRIYESHKA LUTCHMAN – YELLOWWOOD PARK, DURBAN, KWA ZULU NATAL
Age: 24
Occupation: Business management student and model
Previous beauty competitions/pageants: Miss FTV Africa 2009 (winner)

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
Like every little girl, I have dreamt of being a Miss South Africa and have been inspired by many that held the prestigious title. I am very passionate about my country and being Miss South Africa would allow me to reach out to more young people than I am able to now. My nurturing and friendly disposition would enable me to help and motivate all South Africans for a better and brighter future.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa should possess both inner and outer beauty. This constitutes cleanliness of the body and spirit, pureness of the heart and soul and goodness of actions and deeds. She should be elegant, gracious and of such poise that every young girl can look up to and emulate her. An intelligent and focused woman that would make a great South African ambassador.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Kereshnee Naicker. She was the first Indian woman to be crowned Miss South Africa (in 1997). She was born and raised in an Indian community in Durban and gave many other Indian girls, including me, the confidence and hope to follow in her footsteps.

Who are your role models?
My mother is my role model. She has been a single parent of four children. She has inspired me to be the brave, confident, humble and God fearing. She faced her obstacles and challenges with courage and strength. I hope I have inherited her strength of character and aspire to be as phenomenal as she is.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
I grew up with my mum as a single parent and three brothers in Yellowwood Park, Durban. My brothers are successful businessmen in the field of trucking. My mother is a high school teacher who is now living abroad and teaching English in Dubai. It had always been her dream to explore the world once she had raised her children. My brothers are happily married and I am now an aunt of two nieces and two nephews.

What do you do in your spare time?
When I am with my friends we enjoy long lunches and board games. I also enjoy listening to music, picnics and traveling to beautiful and adventurous destinations.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Dream big! We all have dreams growing up and it is important for us to hold onto them and see them through. It’s never too late to learn. Even though life throws many challenges your way always remember that God has a plan and if God brings it to you He will see you through it! Never give up! You are a phenomenal woman and you can do it. Believe in yourself.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would love to meet Wendy Luhabe who is a social entrepreneur and author. She has spent her career working and empowering disadvantaged people, especially women. As a business student she inspires me to help previously disadvantaged people for the business field.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I love amusement parks. I can play the silliest games and I will go on the scariest rides which makes me feel like a kid again. I love the adrenaline rush.

What are you reading?
I am reading Malala – the true story of Malala Yousafzai, an inspirational girl who stood up to the Taliban for female education. She is admired worldwide as a young woman for her persistence and achievements.

What music are you listening to?
I love listening to music and always start my day off with one of my favorite songs. I am currently listening to Sam Smith’s Momentarily Mine.

Your Favourite TV show?

Grey’s Anatomy.

Your favourite meal?
I love home cooked meals especially my mum’s chicken curry but my favourite at a restaurant is definitely oxtail.

What is your favourite quote?
“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others” – Nelson Mandela

SASKIA WAGNER – HONEYDEW, GAUTENG
Age: 18 (19 in December)
Occupation: I am studying first year Bachelor of Accounting at Stellenbosch University, on my path to becoming a chartered accountant. I am also a part-time model and I am currently signed with Boss Models Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants:
2013 – I came 3rd in Figures Model of the Year
2013 – I went with Figures to New York to compete in the IMTA (International Modelling and Talent Association. In my category I placed third for commercial model of the year.
2014 – I won Figures Face of the Year
2014 – I won Figures Model of the Year, winning a free trip to the IMTA NY. I placed first in all of the competitions I entered: runway, jeans, bikini, photography and make-up and I won Commercial Model of the Year. I was also offered two contracts, one with an agency in Milan and one in Japan. However, I was only in Grade 11 so I chose to turn them down as finishing school was more important to me.
2015 – I also got placed as Gaschette Magazine top 20 Faces of the Year.

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I want to become an empowered woman who is able to inspire change in South Africa. As Miss South Africa I want to impart my skills to uplift society. I aspire to use the skills that I have gained in my business-based degree to create a platform for young entrepreneurs and help create jobs to boost the economy and improve the lives of the many unemployed youth in SA. To promote education for both young men and women. By combining beauty, grace and brains I believe this is something I can achieve along with the Miss SA team who can mentor me through this process and guide me to growing into an empowered and inspiring South African woman. I want to promote beauty with a purpose, the ideal of Beauty and Brains. I have experienced people’s judgement, some who underestimate me and think I am just a model. But rather I am clever, I am driven and I am passionate about accounting and business and I want to promote this and help the country with my business knowledge.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
A Miss South Africa should be driven, determined, generous and passionate. One who wants to give without receiving. Miss SA should have morals and values and stay true to themselves. She must be graceful and elegant, professional and confident.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Rolene Strauss has inspired me the most, not only because of how successful she was as Miss South Africa becoming Miss World, but also because of her determination in studying. She has worked incredibly hard at becoming a doctor and the many years it takes. Rolene’s desire to make a difference to women and education are inspiring. Her beauty and empowerment makes me strive to achieve the same.

Who are your role models?
Firstly, Nelson Mandela has inspired me, for the way he changed our country and for the goals he strived to achieve. I have hope that his legacy will lead to more great change that is needed in our country. Secondly, my mother and father are my role models. One day I want to have a family of my own and be a parent to my children the way my wonderful parents are to my brother and me.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My family is the most important part of my life. They are the ones who define me and the reason why I am the person I am today. My mother Cheryl is a stay-at-home mom, and has been there for me every day and cared for me my entire life. She is the chairwoman of a charity in Johannesburg called the Baragwaneth Hospital Comforts Committee. This charity epitomises her giving nature which has inspired me to one day help and support her charity and provide for South Africa the same way she does. My father Alistair is a qualified chartered accountant who now is the COO and CFO of a company called Silica in Sandton. I have an older brother Jake who is studying in Stellenbosch. Jake is the rock in my life. He has always been so protective of me and supportive through everything I do in my life.

What do you do in your spare time?
From the age of two until 16 I did ballet and stopped at advanced one. I started horse-riding when I was 14. I was very successful and represented my school in many competitions, receiving regional and national colours. However, I stopped riding when I moved to Stellenbosch. When I return to Jo’burg, I love to visit the stables and perhaps have a lesson or two. My hobbies are reading and relaxing or spending time with my loved ones.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Do not be afraid of being who you are. Strive for your goals and work towards a career that you’re passionate about. And always remember that everyone is deserving of love.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. She is a beautiful woman, who married her Prince Charming. She is graceful and elegant, yet seems to be down-to-earth and appears to embrace her role as a royal, always with a smile on her face. She appears to support her chosen charities with real enthusiasm and genuine kindness. I would love to ask her how she copes with the pressures of public life, and still remain so poised and calm.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Maths makes me happy. Working through a problem and then being able to solve it, is satisfying and makes me feel accomplished and it calms me down.

What are you reading?
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes.

What music are you listening to?
My favourite genre of music is Indie and my current favourite artists are Sam Smith and Adele.

Your Favourite TV show?

MasterChef Australia

Your favourite meal?
Anything with pasta!

What is your favourite quote?
“All it takes is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” – Benjamin Mee, We Bought A Zoo.

SHANÉ NAIDOO – BENONI, GAUTENG
Age: 24
Occupation: Industrial Engineering student at the University of the Witwatersrand (Graduation: November 2016)
Previous beauty competitions/pageants entered and placed in: Miss South Africa 2015 – Top 12

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I want to be Miss South Africa 2017 as I am confident that I will make a real and tangible difference in the lives of many young South Africans. I pride myself in being graceful, compassionate and enthusiastic. I have a love for South Africa and our people, and I would be proud to be an ambassador and a leader for our diverse country. I am passionate about youth development and women empowerment through education. Being a female engineer, I understand first-hand how women are often underrated and unrecognised. I want the challenges that I have overcome, and the lessons that I have learnt to serve as an inspiration to the youth, so that they can be inspired to live up to their full potential. Being crowned a Miss SA will allow me the opportunity to reach into our communities and spread a positive message to young South Africans. I want 2017 to be the year that we shatter those glass ceilings and break the stereotypes and stigmas that still surround women today.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
I believe a Miss South Africa should be both graceful and charismatic. She is a woman with a sharp mind, a presence and a kind heart. I believe a Miss SA should exude strength and confidence and be comfortable in her own skin. She is beauty with a purpose.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Each previous Miss South Africa has brought something unique to the platform, and each has inspired me for different reasons. However, the Miss SA who ignited my dream of becoming a Miss SA was Melinda Bam. When Melinda was crowned, she brought something fresh and unique to the brand. She embodied confidence, compassion and modern sophistication. I admire her tenacity during her time spent with the Thuthuzela Orphanage in ensuring that those children always had a place to call home. Melinda’s success continued even after her reign, and she still serves as an inspiration to me today. Meeting her in person reaffirmed her authenticity as a beautiful woman, who is also a change-maker and inspiration.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
I’m inspired by so many women every day. Rolene Strauss, Khanyi Dhlomo, Oprah Winfrey…to name a few. My ultimate role model is my mother, Suvesha. She has overcome incredibly difficult times in her life and faced many challenges growing up as a young woman, yet she overcame every obstacle with sheer grace. I am often in awe of her strength, courage and determination and I know that because of our close bond, all those things that I admire about my mum reside within me too.

Tell us a bit more about your family?
We are the typical close-knit South African family of four, with an Indian heritage. My parents, Rajen and Suvesha, are my biggest supporters. My dad is a manager at cement manufacturing company and my mum is an ex-teacher and currently self-employed. My sister, Merishka, is 28 years old and she resides in Dubai. Despite the long distance, we remain close thanks to regular skype calls and voice notes. My family are my biggest blessing and the ultimate support system.

What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy being outdoors and staying fit and active. I love experiencing new restaurants with my friends and discovering hidden gems in and around Joburg. I also love to bake, and I often spend Sunday afternoons trying out new healthy recipes to satisfy my sweet tooth.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Harness the strength that comes with being a woman – because it’s your greatest strength. You are powerful beyond measure. Your dreams are valid and achievable, and realising them starts with believing in yourself. Know your self-worth, create your own destiny and always stay true to who you are. Let your light shine.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be
the opportunity to meet Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He is one of South Africa’s most well-known Human Rights Activists. Even at his age he continues to champion human rights and equality, both in South Africa and internationally. I admire his compassion, humility and kindness.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I think people would be surprised to know that despite my small frame, I practice boxing to keep fit. And I throw a mean right hook!

What are you reading?
On Becoming Fearless by Arianna Huffington. A book on how women can harness their strengths to become fearless about leadership, getting comfortable in their own skin and changing the world. It’s funny, relatable and holds a wealth of wisdom between the pages.

What music are you listening to?
I’m open to all genres of music. I’m currently listening to Jimmy Nevis, Black Coffee, Rihanna and upbeat dance music for when I work out.

Your Favourite TV show?

Narcos – A series based on the real life events of Pablo Escobar. I was hooked!

Your favourite meal?
Anything homemade! If my mum had a hand in stirring the pot, I know it’s going to be good. Her biryani and Indian condiments make for a great cheat meal.

What is your favourite quote?
“Your journey begins with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully.”- Oprah Winfrey

SHELBE PRETORIUS – PINEHAVEN, KRUGERSDORP, GAUTENG
Age: 23
Occupation: Owner of Flair promotional models

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I want to be Miss South Africa 2017 because I believe I have all the qualities to be a phenomenal ambassador for our country. I am passionate about people and a strong believer in making a difference. I live each day to inspire not only woman, but everyone from all races, religions, cultures and backgrounds. My biggest desire is to instil value and purpose in the hearts of young woman and children. I want to inspire people to live purposeful, driven lives. I believe it’s not the title that will define me but I will define the value of the title by being able to bring all of me, my dreams, my goals and my purpose.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
I believe a Miss South Africa should be a driven, compassionate, intelligent, powerful woman with the urge to want to make a difference. She should be able to relate and interact with all types of people from every kind of background, generation, culture and religion. She needs to be fearless and genuine. She should not only be physically beautiful but also full of kindness, love, gentleness, goodness, willingness, fearlessness and joy.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Rolene Strauss. Not only was she crowned Miss World but she started the Strauss Foundation and she continues to make a difference. She is a go getter and doer.

Who are your role models?
I have two role models who (unknowingly) inspire me every day and play a huge role in my life. Firstly, Allyson Rowe – Miss Washington USA 2014. Allyson is a bold and dynamic woman, she is passionately driven and a phenomenal motivational speaker. She had many personal life set-backs and wasn’t the favourite contestant in the Miss Washington US pageant. However she knew what she was called to do and throughout the competition remained true to herself; I love that. She was a girl on a mission and she won. She is also the founder of Kingdom Crowned Ministries and I share similar life testimonies. We are very similar in many ways and like her I have not entered pageants before and I am probably the most “unprepared’ woman in the pageant, seeing as I am not sure what to expect or how this process works. However, like Allyson, I know who I am, I know what I stand for and I am passionately driven to make a difference. Secondly, Bobbie Houston. My number one role model who has inspired me and changed my life. Bobbie is the most powerful woman I have ever seen, her accomplishments are priceless and I am completely in awe of what she has achieved. Bobbie is the founder of the Colour Woman’s Conference, which is a sisterhood movement started in 1997. Her conferences bring together more than 20 000 woman per conference annually, and all across the world. She unites woman and instils values and understanding of womanhood.

Tell us a bit more about your family?
My father Ronnie is the greatest man I have ever met and I have been incredibly blessed to have him raise me in a loving and supportive home. He has been my guide. My father has been in ministry for 20 years and is currently one of the pastors and leaders at Rhema West Christian church, he is 49 years old. My mother Leanne is the most caring, nurturing and selfless woman I have ever met; she is the pillar in our household. My mother serves at my father’s church and is the founder and leader of the Young Adults Group. I have a younger brother Ruan who is currently studying finance at UJ. He is the youth leader at Rhema West Christian Church and has his certificate in discipleship and bible studies. When we are not serving in Ministry together as a family, we enjoy going to the Kruger for a break. We are a very close and tight-knit family that has movie dates and braai days every Sunday.

What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy having lunch dates with my friends. I don’t often have days-off so when I do, I try spending it with loved ones. I am one of nine committee members and leaders at House Jade (a haven for orphaned children) and in my spare time I really enjoy spending time with the kids and visiting the home; it’s when I am at my happiest. I am also a volunteer youth worker at Christ Kids Trust and I work at the West Rand School which is a school for children with disabilities and special needs.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
You are needed and valued, you have purpose in this life far beyond your belief. Once you realise your worth you will be able to engineer your life and create endless possibilities. I want every young girl and woman to love their uniqueness, to have self-love and acceptance. Don’t be afraid to dream, girls.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Bobbie Houston, because she has been my biggest role model. She has created an empire and I truly admire her.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I think people would be surprised to know that I am extremely humorous. I have been told many times, “You are the funniest person”. I love making people laugh.

What are you reading?
The Lies Woman Believe And The Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh Demoss. I must say this is one of my best reads yet.

What music are you listening to?
I love Jesus Culture, Hillsong, Bethel and Elevation worship. However I am most certainly not going to try conquer leg day at gym while listening to Hillsong. Then I enjoy listening to commercial music.

YourFavourite TV show?

I am not much of  TV person, so when I do watch TV then I enjoy watching reality shows such as Idols and The Voice. I also enjoy watching movies and never miss Carte Blanche.

Your favourite meal?
Rump steak and veggies just does it for me!

What is your favourite quote?
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour and some style.” – Maya Angelou

SHENAI BRIDGLALL – PORT SHEPSTONE, KZN
Age: 22
Occupation: I am an honours student at the University of Cape Town, currently completing my Business Science degree in marketing, statistics and economics. I have also founded my own non-profit organisation called The EssBee Foundation. Our objective is to build a flourishing South Africa by focusing on four essential pillars; education, personal hygiene, nutrition and women empowerment.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants: Miss South Coast Fever 2004 (winner), Miss Jnr. South Africa 2009 (Top 5)

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
Becoming Miss South Africa has been my childhood dream. I value that the Miss South Africa organisation looks for goal-orientated women to represent our stunning country and I seek to be that. I know what my goals are in life and I want to inspire young girls to discover who they are, what they want to achieve in life and encourage them that no dream is too big to achieve if they work hard, believe in themselves and never give up.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
I believe that a Miss South Africa should be confident and comfortable in her own skin – she should be intelligent, humble, compassionate and relatable.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
I have been inspired in some way by all of the previous Miss South Africa winners but the one who has had the biggest impact on my life is Claudia Henkel. In 2004, the year that Claudia took the title, I won my first beauty pageant (Miss South Coast Fever). This was the year that I decided that I want to be Miss South Africa one day – I have looked up to, and admired, Claudia since then.

Who are your role models?
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Miss World 1994) and my parents. Family means everything to Aishwarya and I admire this trait as I can relate to this quality; my family means everything to me. My parents are my role models because they have proved that anyone can be successful – despite financial constraints – if they work hard, believe in themselves and follow their dreams. My mom is an amazing wife, a great mother and an inspirational woman. Together with my dad, she has raised me to become the independent young woman that I am today and she continuously inspires me to be a great woman.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My dad Vinodh is the founding director of his own architectural company, VHB Associates. My mom, Ashnee, works with my dad in the company. My parents have worked extremely hard to give me all the privileges in life and I am eternally grateful for them. They have always encouraged me to fulfil my dreams and continue to provide me with support. My brother, Sherav, is currently completing grade 11. His dream is to become an architect like my dad but I am convinced that he is going to be South Africa’s next comedian. He never fails to make me laugh with his jokes. My dog, Loubie is the most adorable ball of fluff. She’s on her way to become InstaFamous (Yes, she has her own Instagram account).

What do you do in your spare time?
The key to success of any sort is a well-balanced lifestyle. I make sure that I take some time off to relax, rest and spend time with my family and friends. I enjoy travelling with my family during university holidays. It is my dream to start my own luxury accessories brand in the future, specializing in shoes and handbags so I spend my spare time planning potential products. I enjoy working out at the gym, doing EMS training, taking walks with my dog. I go to hot yoga and boxing classes too.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
No dream is too big to achieve if you work hard, believe in yourself and never give up.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would love to meet my role model, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as she is already living what I aspire to be; I admire the fact that she has remained humble and grounded throughout. I would love to ask her what motivates her in life.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I love travelling the world with my family. Together, we have visited 39 beautiful countries. I also have my own Instagram travel hashtag where people can view my travel experiences, #TravelWithShenai.

What are you reading?
The Journey: A Practical Guide to Healing Your Life and Setting Yourself Free by Brandon Bays. The book explains that we have so much potential as humans but sometimes we are held back from exploring this potential. The book teaches you how to break free and explore this hidden potential.

What music are you listening to?

Fifth Harmony’s Work From Home, Ed Sheeran’s album Thinking Out Loud and Zayn Malik’s Pillowtalk.

Your Favourite TV show?

A Cinderella Story with Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray. No matter how many times I watch it, it never gets old.

Your favourite meal?
Prawns! Grilled prawns, prawn tempura, prawn sushi. Apparently they’re the cockroaches of the sea but they’re scrumptious!

What is your favourite quote?
Nothing is impossible, even the word itself says I’m possible ~ Audrey Hepburn

TSHEGOFATSO MONGGAE – DOBSONVILLE, SOWETO, GAUTENG
Age: 23
Occupation: Marketing intern at AFI (African Fashion International)
Previous beauty competitions: Miss Princess High 2010 (winner), Miss Roodepoort 2012 (winner), Miss South Africa 2014 (Top 12) and Miss Mamelodi Sundowns 2015 (winner).

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
I want to be Miss South Africa because it has always been a childhood dream of mine; I also have a keen interest in social development initiatives such as Reach for a Dream and Cell C’s Take a Girl Child to Work.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Miss South Africa must have humility and compassion.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Bokang Montjane who has gone on to open her own foundation as well as run the television programme Zaziwa. She makes young women believe that anything is possible

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
My role model would be our public protector Thuli Madonsela. She performs her duties without fear or prejudice.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My parents are Fannie and Matselane Monggae. My father recently suffered a heart attack so is recovering at home and my mother is an administrator at Wits University. I have seven siblings and we have businessmen, economists, bankers and a lawyer in the family.

What do you do in your spare time?
I spend time with my family, read books and listen to music

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
The world is your oyster. South Africa has developed immensely and young people are exposed to a lot of opportunities all they just need to do is to go out there and grab those opportunities.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would love to meet Thuli Madonsela, I really look up to her and would love to meet her in person.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I can be quite the comedian around friends and family.

What are you reading?
The Black Book

What music are you listening to?
Hip hop

Your

Favourite TV show?

Idols SA

Your favourite meal?
Seared salmon

What is your favourite quote?
The happiest girls are the prettiest girls (Beauty is not always about aesthetics, let your inner beauty shine)

YUTA RAUBENHEIMER – KAMEELDRIFT, PRETORIA, GAUTENG
Age: 25
Occupation: Customer service supervisor for Gautrain. The customer service team is the face of Gautrain and we are brand ambassadors for Gautrain.

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role?
To be Miss South Africa has always been a dream that I have been preparing for ever since I could remember. I have always felt the need to be involved in my community; and as such, have followed my heart’s desire to serve by being involved in numerous projects in my community. To be Miss South Africa would broaden my horizon to an extent that I could influence a much greater audience that I can right now. I am a go-getter and driven to do my part in previous disadvantaged areas. Everybody needs hope and a future. A soup kitchen here or a children’s home there will not cover it. Our young adults need an attitude of “I can do” not a hand-out. To get to a place of affirmation, skills are needed as well as motivation and inspiration. I want to visit every school, hospital and every children’s home to motivate and inspire young people to follow their dreams, develop skills that can be displayed in expo centres in every township where talent seekers can visit and provide necessary input to produce innovation.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
A Miss South Africa should be humble and kind and live to inspire others. She should influence people to feel better when they leave her presence.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
It is really difficult to single out one specific Miss South Africa, because they all inspired and are incredible woman. I did however enjoy Basetsana Kumalo, I listened to her life story that she told on radio and I really felt that I could relate to her. She made it her goal to leave a legacy that will touch hearts and she has already touched mine.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
Thuli Madonsela is my role model. I admire her fearlessness in always speaking the truth. She is kind but firm. She is fearless but compassionate. I love that she is brave and has integrity to always do the right thing even if it costs her dearly.

Tell us a bit more about your family?
We are a family of six. My father is an electrical/mechanical engineer who works from home and fixes machines. My mother is a housewife, but in her spare time she manages a laundry for a business partner and does interior designing. My mom and dad have been married for 38 years. I have three sisters – my dad is lucky to have so many women in his life. My eldest sister, Lasqueve, lives and works in Sandton in a specialised cycling lab as the head coach/instructor and manager of the Fourways club and Melrose club (Power Performance Centres). She keeps us all physically fit with her drill sergeant tendencies. She is qualified in Personal training. She is also someone whom I admire and look up to. Kara is the second oldest and lives and works in Pretoria as an embryologist (with an MSc in Physiology) at the Wilgers Hospital. I am the third child and then last but not the least is, Lisa, 17 and still in high school. She enjoys shadowing me when I do charity work.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love dancing; I did some contemporary ballet but now do Sh’bam and Zumba and advanced aerobics. I am also involved with Toastmasters, sing at my Churches’ worship team and I take part in numerous charity projects which takes up most of my spare time. My family often comments that I try to pack too much in a day, but so far I have managed to conquer every challenge I have set for myself.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
To value and love themselves. If a woman believes she is valuable and sees her worth, her instinct of caring and nurturing will change all those around her and which will eventually impact her country. This is my I aim and the change I want to bring about to impact my country for the better – I love others because I value myself.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
I would definitely want to meet my role model Thuli Madonsela, who has impacted my life with her fearless, kind, courageous, truthful, brave and bold character. I would love to have coffee with her and ask her about some of the life’s truths she has learned on her journey to becoming such a powerful yet humble woman.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
My first career choice was to join the South African Defence Force as an air force pilot. Serving my country has always been a heart’s desire.

What are you reading?
I love to read inspirational books. I am currently reading Joel Osteen’s book The Power of I Am.

What music are you listening to?
I enjoy all kinds of music, but my favourites are: Bethel, Hillsong, Dewald Wasserfal, and Taylor Swift.

Your Favourite TV show?

I really enjoy watching Quantico and Survivor South Africa.

Your favourite meal?
Seafood, seafood, seafood. It only has to say seafood and I am more than happy to eat it. Luckily I have no food allergies

What is your favourite quote?
You can only go as far as your mind allows you to.

ZOZIBINI TUNZI – EAST LONDON/TSOLO, EASTERN CAPE
Age: 23
Occupation: Part time model
Previous beauty competitions/pageants: Miss Cape Peninsula University of Technology 2013 (winner) and Miss Mamelodi Sundowns Western Cape 2015 (winner)

I have wanted to be Miss South Africa for as long as I can remember, even before I knew there was such a thing as a Miss South Africa. Growing up I was a very shy, awkward child and could not really relate to my peers. One day my mother entered me into a church pageant because she wanted to get me out of my shell. When I went through that programme and met all those girls, I knew that was where I wanted to be. I made friends, I learnt how to be comfortable in my skin, my confidence grew and, most importantly, I acquired the skill to be a people person and realised the greatest gift was humility. I decided that when I grew up I wanted to give back to pageantry because it had given so much to me. I decided that I too could be a catalyst for effective change, and that is when I learnt about Miss South Africa.

What qualities do you believe a Miss South Africa should possess?
Firstly a Miss South Africa should be someone who is able to feel at home no matter where she is. She also has to be relatable to the masses especially to young girls and women who, when they look at her, have to find pieces of themselves in her; they have to feel like she is real. In as much as you are beautiful and young girls will admire you, they should never feel like you do not possess a human element. These are qualities I possess and will definitely be bringing them to the Miss South Africa role. One of the most important qualities is humility/Ubuntu. This is deeply engraved in who we are as a country; it is a part of our heritage. Finally, respect, respect for yourself, respect for your country, respect for the young and the old.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you?
Basetsana Kumalo has been my inspiration for the longest time; she is the epitome of a strong woman. When she won Miss South Africa it was at a peak of great change in our country and she did more than just win a crown. She was fighting three battles – a battle of being a black woman wanting to be great in a new South Africa; a battle of being a young person trying to be a part of an influential youth and lastly a battle of being taken seriously as a modern woman in a new South Africa. Even today she continues to be a great woman, still staying relevant and changing lives of others.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you?
Thuli Madontsela for her strength, fearlessness and fierceness. Never have we had a public protector as firm as her. Her successor has big shoes to fill.

Tell us a bit more about your family.
My father Lungisa is the greatest father in the whole world; he probably knows all previous title holders of this pageant, probably even more than I because he shows interest and invests time in everything all his little girls love. Yes, I am a certified daddy’s girl. My mother Piliswa is my best friend. She likes to think she is hip and happening, the coolest thing to ever happen in our lives. I disagree – but she is fabulous so my opinion doesn’t count. She is a strong woman, the most beautiful woman in the entire universe. have three amazing sisters: Yanga, an event planner working for the ANC office in Cape Town, is like my second mother, and I would not survive without her. Sibabalwe, is a second year journalism student at WSU in East London, I have never met anyone with a heart as big as hers. And lastly little 10-year old Ayakha who is nothing short of brilliant, two grades ahead of her age and top of her class. I am the second eldest of the four.

What do you do in your spare time?
I read a lot of books; I am not very athletic so I grew up with my nose always in a book. I love going out for movies, it’s really nice to watch someone else’s life and see the world through their eyes. I am also a real foodie and my big sister and I love to go restaurant hopping and trying out different foods.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa?
Set goals for yourself, write them down, and read them to yourself over and over again until you believe them. Let them out into the universe, pray about them and work every day until you achieve them. Speak your life into existence, power of the tongue.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and was able to meet one person, who would it be?
Winnie Madikizala Mandela, just to say thank you for being strong for all of us and for every other generation of women still to come.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I can sing.

What are you reading?
The Power Of I Am.

What music are you listening to?
I am currently listening to DVSN.

Your Favourite TV show?

Real Talk with Anele.

Your favourite meal?
Umnqusho (samp) and tripe.

What is your favourite quote?
“We do not develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” – Barbara De Angelis

Visit www.misssa.co.za to vote.

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