Survivor SA: Champions – Meet the castaways


If someone had to ask me what my favourite reality show is, it would have to be Survivor. I’ve loved this show since inception and I follow it as much as possible. The American one is fantastic and the South African version is equally as entertaining and with that in mind, we’ve got just over two weeks to go until the new season hits our screens. It’s called Survivor SA: Champions. It will see sporting icons Mark Fish and Corne Krige leading two tribes through the trials and tribulations the game that is Survivor. Here are the contestants you’ll be seeing a lot more of come the 19th of January at 17:30.

The Brawn

Physical strength and well-toned muscles can come in handy at Survivor challenges, but these Goliaths take it to the next level. If they all end up in the same tribe, it will be a walk-over at the challenges. If not, there might be epic testosterone-fuelled battles.

Sports Manager

Solly is a street-smart, athletic sportsman who grew up in Hillbrow, studied at RAU and is now the Sports Manager of a country club in small-town Kathu in the Northern Cape. One of his best-loved playgrounds is the gym. He also managed gym franchises in Johannesburg, and while his imposing rugby body poses a physical threat to men, he loves the company of strong women.

Vehicle salesman

This sexy Umtata-born bad boy is not your typical jock, but his tattoo-covered gym-honed body is hard to ignore. Zan is a car sales executive who’s always been obsessed with swimming and the big blue ocean. He represented Eastern Province at the SA Games in swimming in 2005 and is a scuba dive master who also loves fishing. Add to that the ability to speak fluent Xhosa and a chef qualification and the hunky castaway becomes even more intriguing…

Wedding Planner

Zavion hits the stereotypical image of an out-and-proud gay wedding planner for six. He has been the SA Student Decathlon Champion for the past four years and trained for the Sharks Rugby Academy under-21 side. But in contrast to ladies’ man Solly and bad boy Zan, Zavion is a go-getter former Kearsney College Head Boy and a people-pleaser with an artistic side. As you would expect from a wedding planner everything must be perfect, maybe too perfect.

The Brainboxes

Physical strength might come in handy at some challenges, but there are also several puzzles to solve on a Survivor island, for which you need the brainy bunch.

Financial Manager

Graham is a charming, ambitious all-rounder and analytical thinker who is as comfortable behind the books as he is on the sports field. Newly-promoted at a major bank, Graham already has two degrees and is studying towards a third. At school he played provincial hockey and basketball and loved being on stage, acting in dramas. All moms would love to have him as a son-in-law, but he’s taken – by his girlfriend of ten years.

Graham is very likeable, but being likeable can turn you into a target on Survivor. He could prove to be a sharp player but will have to be wary of over-analysing every situation.

Astrophysics Student

If you’re an astrophysics post-graduate student, you have to be smart – very smart. Khayelitsha-born Sivu is indeed the show’s ‘nerd’, believing that education is the key to everything – on the condition that you use that key. He taught himself how to swim and is busy learning the rules of tennis.

Sivu has analysed international seasons of Survivor to devise his strategy, but as all Survivors quickly learn, the game is not scripted television. Will his status as the ‘Survivor nerd’ isolate him or be to his advantage?

The Iron Ladies

Having a strong, mature woman on your side is an asset to any tribe. But being forty-something, no-nonsense and female doesn’t always imply that you’re of the nurturing kind.

Martial Artist

You don’t want to mess with this strong-minded, focused lady with the body of a twenty year-old. Killarney has been practicing martial arts from a young age, competed internationally, has black belts in various disciplines and has also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Yet, she knows how to balance the yin and the yang. Although she’s not married, family is very important to her – and to top it off, she boasts a degree in Fine Arts.

Her dad – who was also into martial arts – played a significant role in her life. Will she gravitate towards the strong men? Or will she approach the game from a spiritual side and adapt to circumstances the way she had to when growing up in different countries throughout Africa?

Army Sports Officer

Anyone who has completed 10 Iron Man challenges deserves the utmost respect. Military lady Marsha Wessels also boasts Protea Colours in Duathlon and Triathlon and is used to keeping army officers in tip-top shape. She’s been with the SANDF for 22 years. In her line of work, a tough exterior, stability and strong principles are important – but when she goes home, she’s the loving mother of three.

Marsha can’t stand immaturity, sloppiness and backstabbers. But this is the game of Survivor – and Marsha is highly competitive.

The Action Junkies

They’re fit and energetic adrenaline junkies who like to impress the girls and be friends with the guys.

SAAF Helicopter Pilot

Altaaf, born and bred in Durban, always wanted to be a helicopter pilot and made his big dream come true by joining the SAAF. His other passion is sport – and on that front, became the first Indian person to play rugby for the SAAF. The fast full-back and wing also completed the Air Force’s survival course with flying colours.

Despite sporting a flashy smile, Altaaf professes to have a bad temper. Will he be able to stay calm? He also doesn’t eat fish, which doesn’t bode well for him on a desolate island!

Fire Fighter

To be a firefighter and paramedic means you have to be tough, fast and fearless. This KZN hero has all of that, plus a beautiful voice. Before graduating in the Top 5 of his class, Philip sang in a church band in the USA. Among his other hobbies, he counts fishing, running and training and to prepare for Survivor SA, he studied game theory.

Philip says he’s a perfectionist who doesn’t like losing and enjoys immersing himself in the action… but so does everyone else who’s playing Survivor.

Not just a pretty face

Looks can be deceiving – and good looks even more so.

Business Analyst
Drop-dead gorgeous Stephen belongs on the pages of a fashion magazine. In fact, he’s long-since ticked off that item on his bucket list. Stephen’s been in advertisements for top luxury brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Armani and has strutted international catwalks. Not satisfied with resting on his chiseled laurels, he’s superseded his modeling career with an impressive CV. The UCT Engineering graduate and current Business Analyst is also a commercial diver and former game ranger with provincial colours in water polo.

He’s beautiful, strategic, charming, smart – and a hard worker, as his stint as a gardener in the UK proves. But maybe he’s just too perfect for a not-so-perfect island.


On the surface she’s a well-groomed, pretty girl with a penchant for fashion – but Marian is the ultimate Survivor fan: a devious manipulator who secretly plots and schemes to get what she wants. Marion studied fashion at the College of Fashion Design in Cape Town and moved to Johannesburg two years ago to start her own business – The Doll Box.

Is this a case of all bark and no bite? Can Marian mix the smart, savvy and bad well enough to implement her strategy?

High School Teacher

Fresh-faced 22-year old Ashleigh looks as if she could still be in high school herself. Appearances can be deceiving, though – she’s the mother of an 18-month-old son and does podium dancing in her spare time. Ashleigh studied with the help of a bursary and intense tenacity: first a BA in Film, Ballet and Choreography before following up with a teaching diploma. The sexy flirt from Cape Town says she always gets what she wants – either by wrapping people around her little finger, or by plain hard work.

Her innocent looks might be mistaken for naivety, but she comes well-prepared and is sneaky. She even drew up mind maps to help her devise ways of handling all the different personality types under stressful situations.

Girls Next Door

Some girls are just easy to hang out with – and those are the dangerous ones, who often fly beneath the radar, to the final tribal council.

PR Manager

Vivacious Gena is the type of girl you want to be friends with – but would you want to play Survivor with her? She has worked in film and fashion and loves people and the outdoors. If she could ask for one wish from a genie, she would ask to bring love to kids in an orphanage. In fact, she’d love to run an orphanage herself. Gena comes from a close-knit family. Her dad taught her how to tie a variety of complex knots for Survivor.

Even though Gena is friendly and approachable, she is no push-over. If you cross the line, be prepared to face her particular brand of music.


Gorgeous and petite, Vel has starred in films on Mzansi Magic and AfricaMagic. But she also has a tomboyish streak and often swaps her stilettos for designer sneakers. She has a Code 14 and bike license and runs her dad’s vehicle testing station in Hammanskraal. Vel was born in Pretoria, went to arts school Pro Arte in Alphen Park and is proud of her Tswana heritage.

Happy people make Vel happy, but she says she can get down and dirty – as long as she keeps looking good. That says it all.

People who love People

Fans will tell you that this harsh reality show is not just about surviving the elements – it’s also a social game, which means a degree in Psychology and/or Social Sciences might come in handy.


Self-employed events planner and entrepreneur Buhle holds a Social Sciences Degree from the University of Natal. This strong-willed Zulu-speaking mother won’t stand for anything fake, but is always willing to lend a helping hand. She has run a certified Project Management business that was involved in the 2010 Soccer World Cup – she’s a keen soccer player herself! From humble beginnings, Buhle has become a global citizen who now regularly travels to diverse destinations across Europe, China, Canada and the African continent.

Buhle says her job has taught her how to deal with many difficult and very different people. She wants to be the most hardworking tribe member – the one the others can’t do without.

HR Director

HR Directors are known for their diplomacy, emotional intelligence, mediation and negotiation skills – and Moyra is no exception. Apart from sporting an Honours degree in Industrial Psychology, Moyra is an avid marathon runner who has completed the Two Oceans marathon. Living a healthy, balanced life is a priority for this vegetarian. Her kitchen has been meat-free for the last seventeen years.

They won’t tell, but even HR Directors find some people annoying and Moyra might just miss her quiet time. Survivors don’t go home after office hours.

Quirky Characters

Some can’t help but break the mould… and in Survivor they’re often the ones that will keep surprising you!


David, the oldest contestant on Survivor South Africa to date, is not your average ‘old toppie’. He shoes race horses and show horses for a living – a job he’s done since his army days – which were a long time ago. He has never been married, has no kids and has never consumed alcohol or smoked cigarettes. David is a fun-loving motor-mouth with an odd sense of humour. You’d never say so at first glance, but he loves meditation and reading and prefers books about History and Neurology.

David’s plan is to protect the young ladies and to show the others that an old man is not a liability for the tribe. His biggest fear is being voted off simply because of his age.

Accounts Manager

Shona is the quintessential ditzy blonde. She knows people think she’s an airhead and can’t help but meet their expectations. If you’re looking for a class-act class clown, look no further. To prepare for the game she had a gel pedicure and gave herself a fake tan. Shona also read “The Art of War” and packed a wind-up radio, in case the Survivors were allowed to take a luxury item into the game. There’s almost no end to the wacky repertoire of this natural-born cheerleader.

Is it all an act? When she did an events management course at Damelin, Shona was top of her class. She got her BCom at UJ and has held more than one management position – underestimate her at your peril!

Mortuary Assistant

The last-born of eight kids, animal lover Sonette wanted to be a veterinarian after obtaining two distinctions in Matric. Instead, she had to settle for a job as Mortuary Assistant. She’s been preparing the deceased for their final resting place for the last 23 years, but is adventurous in her spare time. She plays women’s rugby and has tried her luck on TV game show Noot Vir Noot, making it to the final round. She is also an amateur astrologist who knows almost everything about the Zodiac.

Sonette desperately wants to win Survivor, so that she can use the money to send her daughter to university – an opportunity that she was never afforded herself.

Mystery Man

Media Salesman

Who is the real Shane Hattingh? This fascinating media salesman’s CV reads like the biography of a character in a modern television drama. He designed shoes; worked in counter-intelligence in Afghanistan; hiked the Rocky mountains on his own as a youngster; is completely in control of his emotions; loves women; reads people; lost 20 kgs in the last eight months, prefers the battlefield to the concrete jungle; has ADD, and calls himself “a bit of a nutcase”.

Check out the official Survivor site for video profiles, news and more:

Author: Jason Von Berg

Digital content marketer. Mobile App Editor. Entertainment, travel and New York City lover. #Triathlete, #Ironman, health and wellness advocate, @Futurelifeza ambassador

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