Meet the Top 12 Miss SA contestants

Name: Busi Mahlangu
Region: Kwa-Mhlanga Kwa-Ndebele Mpumalanga
Age: 23
Occupation: I am an economics student at the University of South Africa doing my 3rd year. I always wanted to see a dramatic change in my country and economic development is one of the prominent factors that determine the well-being of a country. For me to be in that field meant accomplishing my goal of giving back to my country through my career.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants won? Miss Spring Edendale 2007.

Why do you want to be Miss SA and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? Women and youth empowerment has always been a topic close to my heart. I have so much faith in the influential role of women in society and the nation at large. Research has shown that women have the primary role of bringing up children in our society and with the necessary resources we as women can help break the cycle of poverty. I would like to be the agent of change to help uplift the overall life of women in society which can be achieved through the Miss South Africa brand.
Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you and why? Basetsana Kumalo inspires me because she has shown that she was not limited in her endeavours by winning Miss South Africa, showing people that this breakthrough did not define her life. She has continually been successful since her crowning and has built an empire through the platform of being a Miss South Africa. That’s my goal.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? Gill Marcus. Nothing inspires me more than a powerful yet humble leader and woman.

Tell us a bit more about your family? My mother works for a direct selling company called Table Charm, my dad is a principal at a local school in Mpumalanga. I am the eldest of four, my brother is in matric and my twin sisters are still in primary school.

What do you do in your spare time? I like watching the news, reading informative books or just being with friends and family.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? You are not born to merely get by. Find your call, give back through that call and leave an incorruptible footprint. The biggest tragedy is not death but a life without purpose.
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? Gill Marcus and Thuli Madonsela. They are both powerhouses and are women in the frontlines. They have broken the confines of the role of women in South Africa as they occupy positions which were previously held by men. They have so much power and influence yet they maintain their meekness. I absolutely commend and look up to that.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I’m an adventure junkie.
What are you reading? I always read a book which relates to my current circumstances in order to get insight. A friend gave me a handbook on modelling and pageants by former Miss South Africa, Cindy Nell. I am also reading a book on the character of a leader by Myles Munroe.

What is on your iPod? The new Hillsong and Tamar Braxton.
Your favourite TV show? The news and Top Billing.
Your favourite meal? Anything with chicken.
Anything else you would like to add? I am honoured to be part of the semi-finalists. I can’t wait to continue doing what I know I was born to do, which is to be a humanitarian and a woman activist. It’s great to know that there are people that have faith in you, Thank you Sun International and the Miss South Africa committee for the opportunity.


Name: Chanelle Sardinha
Region: Fourways, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Age: 23
Occupation: I am an actress and model. Having recently completed my Honours degree in BA Dramatic Arts at Wits University, this is my first year attempting to break into this industry. Growing up, I enjoyed performing in lead roles in musicals such as Annie, Grease and Little Shop of Horrors, which allowed me to fuel my passion for acting, singing and dancing. I have also developed a love for acting and modelling in front of the camera and want to gain as much experience and exposure as I can in this field. It will also enhance my skills and self-belief. I featured in a number of local and international TV commercials and campaigns such as Dove Hair Care, ABSA, Barclay’s Bank, Oronamin C, American Tourister and Monte Norte.

Previous beauty competitions/pageants won? I was spotted at the age of six by a ‘tuck-shop mom’ at my school, who insisted that my mom enter me into the ‘Little Miss Fourways Mall’ pageant which I won. I was crowned by former Miss South Africa, Bernelee Daniel, and awarded a one-year modelling contract which led to me winning a number of other titles, including Miss Reach for a Dream, Miss UCPA, Miss Cameo Legs, Miss Junior RSA and Miss Sandton Model of the Year, at which I was crowned by yet another Miss South Africa, Yolanda Kloppers.

Why do you want to be Miss SA and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? I would love to be Miss South Africa because I know who I am and what my country stands for. I pride myself in being approachable, compassionate, humble and enthusiastic. If I am blessed with the opportunity, I will employ a one-on-one approach. I will offer my time to anyone in need. I believe my involvement in the arts will equip me for the Miss South Africa pageant. As a Miss South Africa, you are on display to the world as a global representative of your country. Having studied the art of being in front of an audience on stage and in front of a camera crew, I have honed my energy into being confident in my own skin and ensuring that I remain poised and true to myself in every situation.
Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you and why? Every former Miss South Africa has inspired our nation and left a mark in their unique way. The two Miss South Africa titleholders who connect with me because of their careers are Basetsana Kumalo and Jo-Ann Strauss who both used the platform to create their own legacies. Basetsana is inspiring, having attained the position of President of the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa, as well as through her television production company, Tswelopele Productions. Jo-Ann, on the other hand, has become a familiar TV face who epitomises class and poise. Melinda Bam and Rolene Strauss also exemplify the compassionate and nurturing spirit of Miss South Africa, which I truly admire.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? My role model is my mom. She is never without a smile on her face and always greets people with a warm embrace. She has a love for people and compassion for others, qualities which I strive to emulate.

Tell us a bit more about your family? I come from a family of four consisting of my dad Sidney, my mom Teresa, my older brother Shaun, and me. We are your typical close-knit South African family with a Portuguese heritage who cheer each other on in all of our endeavours. My family mean the world to me and I thank God every day for the love and happiness they constantly show me. My dad is an entrepreneur who specialises in retail. I am “daddy’s girl” and look up to my dad with respect and admiration for his bravery, perseverance and his ability to always put a smile on my face. My mom is a qualified Treasury Dealer but is currently working as a PA to a Director of a company. My friends and I always call her “Mother Teresa” because of her kind and caring nature. She is always helping people wherever she goes. My mom is not only the first person I go to for advice but she is also my best friend. My older brother is a chartered accountant at Deloittes. We are only 19 months apart and therefore have a bond so close that we often consider ourselves to be twins.
What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I further my knowledge and passion for health and fitness. I am currently doing a Personal Training Certificate to educate myself and others about living a happy and healthy lifestyle. The easiest way for me to unwind and think clearly is by running. I enjoy long distance running and losing myself in my thoughts and returning home with my favourite “endorphin rush”.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? My message is there is nothing more beautiful and empowering than a woman who knows her self-worth. Treasure yourself, motivate yourself and believe that you are only capable of greatness.
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? I would love to meet as many people in need as possible. I want to walk in their shoes, hear their stories, make them laugh, see them smile and leave with them understanding their full potential.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? Although I am extremely feminine in the way I present myself, people might be surprised to know that there is a tomboy side to me. I love learning about cars and engines and thoroughly enjoy all adrenaline-junkie activities. I recently bungee jumped off the Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bungee jump in the world. It was the craziest yet most exhilarating thing I have ever done!
What are you reading? I am currently indulging in the book Lean In by COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg. It is proving to be an extremely fascinating and empowering read. Sandberg writes about gender inequality in the workplace and how we as women, and a nation, can promote equality through focusing on our strengths and rights as women instead of our pre-conceived ‘weaknesses’.

What is on your iPod? I use my iPod while running and at gym and play mostly upbeat dance music. I particularly enjoy songs with one-liners of motivation which encourage and linger with me.
Your favourite TV show? My favourite TV show is Suits. I find law extremely fascinating and particularly love the lead character, Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), as she is the senior partner of a highly successful law firm and is not only an extremely talented actress but a vision of female power and strength onscreen.
Your favourite meal? My favourite food is Asian food, in particular sushi. Having travelled to Thailand a year ago, I developed a new-found appreciation for Asian culture, food and its people.


Name: Danelle de Wet
Region: Kuils River, Cape Town, Western Cape.
Age: 21
Occupation: I am a first year BCom Marketing student at the IMM Graduate School of Marketing. Once I have obtained my degree I would like to study further and work towards getting my MBA and then start up my own PR company.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you and why? Melinda Bam, Miss South Africa 2011, who changed the game by making Miss South Africa more relevant to modern times and leaving a legacy, which she predicted at the start of her reign. Then there is Nicole Flint, Miss South Africa 2009, who, on each occasion I’ve bumped into her, was kind, friendly and humble. She has left her mark on the Miss South Africa Pageant. These women also did respectable charity work, which one could see was real and came from the heart. I aspire to become a Miss South Africa that is the perfect blend of all these amazing qualities.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? Someone who has inspired me and continues to do so is Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. She is a woman of integrity and perseverance and puts all her focus on the future of South Africa and the dignity of its citizens. Neutral to all political parties, she has become the country’s top fighter in eradicating corruption, and has never stopped sacrificing her time and energy for what she believes is right. I wouldn’t say I have just one role model; I have a handful of people to whom I look up to. Each of these people has one or two personality and characteristic traits that I admire and try to implement into my own life as I mature.
Tell us a bit more about your family: My father and mother are my pillars of strength. My mother is a self-employed estate agent and my father runs his own construction company. My sisters, regardless of how distant we are in ages, remain close. My eldest sister is 34 and works at an Information Technology firm. My middle sister is 27 and is a qualified physiotherapist.
What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I model and train hard at gym, where I do a bit of Muaythai and I recently began doing yoga. Other things I enjoy doing is hiking, travelling the world and snorkelling.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? You are more powerful than you know. This mostly applies to the young women in the world but can be a message to all. Young women in this country, regardless of their background, need to realise their worth and their potential. They need to fight for a better future and for their education. You can’t sit back and wait for things to come to you, you have to go out there and get it. I don’t come from the wealthiest of communities but I never let that determine my success and my dreams. If you want something, you are the only thing holding yourself back. If you don’t get it right the first time, keep trying! I am the perfect example of that – this is my third entry into Miss South Africa. It is what I want, and it’s something I can feel deep inside. If I did not pick myself up and try again, how would I ever be able to show people that with passion, determination and hard work, all your dreams will transpire?

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? I would love to me meet Thuli Madonsela, of course, and soak up all the wisdom and knowledge she has. She has learnt how to remain neutral, humble and how to stay determined and driven no matter how difficult things may get. If the crown was a time travel machine – Nelson Mandela (while he was president) – just to get insight into the mind of someone who changed an entire nation for the better.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? That I am an ex-dancer and have been for 10 years.
What are you reading? Well the last book I read was Donald Trump’s Think Big.
What is on your iPod? Goodluck – Trickery (And it’s on repeat!)
Your favourite TV show? Modern Family and CSI
Your favourite meal? Basil-pesto baked snapper fillet. It’s yummy.
Anything else you would like to add? If you work really hard, and you are kind – success is inevitable.


Name: Gugulethu Banda
Region: Spruitview, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng
Age: 21
Occupation: I am currently studying towards a BA Tourism Development at the University of Johannesburg and I am in my first year. The reason I enrolled for this particular qualification is because of my love for travel and tourism. I aspire to be a part of the South African tourism industry and be a business woman in that field. I want to contribute towards making South Africa’s tourism sector bigger than it already is. I am also working part time as a Wing team member for Redbull.
Why do you want to be Miss SA and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? The reason I want to be Miss South Africa is because I strongly believe in beauty pageants being a representation of a woman’s inner and outer beauty. Miss South Africa should inspire and empower women, both young and old, as well as represent their country in the best possible way. I could do exactly that if given the platform.
Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you and why? Basetsana Kumalo inspires me. During her reign she used the platform as a stepping stone to build herself as a woman and a brand. Today she is one of South Africa’s most successful women and that alone inspires me. I am working towards being a successful businesswoman and she is my role model. Melinda Bam is also an inspiration. She brought authenticity to the Miss South Africa Pageant without having a pageant queen background. I can relate to that. She is a hard worker and one of my favourite people.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? Basetsana Kumalo because she is a strong and hard working woman who has grown abundantly throughout the years. Also my mother who is supportive of everything I do. She instils positivity in me. She knows what to say and when to say it. She motivates me to do everything I want to do to the best of my ability.
Tell us a bit more about your family? My mother is family orientated and loves cooking and doing chores around the house. She puts her family first and my father was exactly like my mother before he passed away earlier this year. I have two older brothers. One is 27; he is self-employed and lives in Mpumalanga. The other is 29 and he works for SASA as an administrative clerk. My mother is a secretary at a company of attorneys.
What do you do in your spare time? I have a part time job which takes up most of my spare time. I read magazines, listen to music and spend time with family and friends.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? We are very privileged to have been given the ability, as well as the opportunities, to be exactly what we want to be. With that said anything is possible when you have a positive mind-set to match the capacity of your dreams.
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? I would want to meet the woman who inspires me, Basetsana Khumalo. I would like to sit down with her and take notes as to how she got to where she is today. She inspires me to work harder in order to be the woman I want to be.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? People would be surprised to know that I am actually really shy, but become goofy once I get comfortable with people. I am also a really bad dancer.
What are you reading? I am reading The Apple of his Eye by JoAnne Simmons, a book given to me by my best friend for my birthday this year.
What is on your iPod? I listen to different genres of music. There is some hip hop and a bit of House and some slow jams. My most played album is currently, Souled Out by Jhene Aiko.
Your favourite TV show? Although I love watching reality TV shows and crime investigation channels, my favourite TV show is Cooking with Siba.
Your favourite meal? I love pasta and sushi.


Name: Kim Wentzel
Region: Roodepoort, Gauteng
Age: 24
Occupation: I am an assistant fashion buyer for Edcon. I am also currently studying for an advanced diploma in marketing management at the South Africa Institute of Marketing Management.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants won: Miss SA Sun (second princess), Miss African Ambiance(first princess), Miss Roodepoort (finalist but received highest votes from the public), Miss Die Adelaar (winner), Miss Limelight (Top 5), Miss JIP-Westgate Mall (won the semi-final as Miss Westgate Mall) and crowned Miss Face of Clearwater.

Why do you want to be Miss SA and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? The Miss South Africa Pageant is a prestigious event and is a stepping stone for young women to achieve success through the empowerment it provides. It encourages women and allows them to play a vitally important role in society. It also affords them the opportunity to meet different people, to be a role model and to contribute to charity organisations. I want to make a positive statement.

Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you and why? Basetsana Kumalo who won millions of South African hearts when she was crowned. She used her title to her full advantage by launching the Romeo and Basetsane Family Foundation. She is also involved in numerous other business enterprises, including a TV production company, Tswelopele Productions and serving as an Editor at Drum.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? Oprah Winfrey is one of the most successful women in the working world and is also an exemplary example in all spheres of her life. The topics aired on her show are packed with valuable information and cover many subjects. She sets an extremely high standard. Her past has not deterred her from setting, reaching and maintaining high standards, and rising above her painfully difficult childhood.

Tell us a bit more about your family? The Wentzels are a hospitable, warm and fun loving family consisting of six members. My father, Glen is pursuing a career in draughting at Techmach Technologies. He is a very talented artist. My mother is a Senior Education Specialist and oversees mathematics at the Department of Education in the Johannesburg West District. My eldest brother and sister are twins. Ryan is a professional dancer and salesman. His twin – my sister Raquel – was a Latin and ballroom dancer and is currently an accounts administrator. I have a younger brother, Ronan who is in Grade 6. In my family we are blessed to have a wealth of love.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? Make every excuse for something to happen and never allow this opportunity to be taken away from you.
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? The person I admired the most is the late Nelson Mandela and regrettably I will never have an opportunity to meet him. The next person has to be his ex-wife Winnie Mandela. She has sacrificed much of her life for South Africa.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I’m the most random person and like exploring everything.
What are you reading? I’m reading Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup.
What is on your iPod? I’m a huge fan of 70s and 80s music
Your favourite TV show? I love sitcoms such as The Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, and Two and a Half Men
Your favourite meal? I love exploring all kinds of food but I still love my mom`s macaroni and cheese


Name: Liesl Laurie
Region: Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, Gauteng.
Age: 23
Occupation: I graduated with a B.Com General Degree from the University of Johannesburg (Soweto Campus) in April this year. After graduating, I decided to take the rest of the year off from university to pursue a full time career in modelling and also to embark on my journey of giving back to my community and my country. I have been working with a number of Non-Profit Organisations that include Babies Behind Bars and Pilgrim Oasis Community Children’s Outreach in Eldorado Park and adjacent informal settlement in Kliptown. In June I launched my own NPO The Pearl Project, which aims to create a beacon of hope club through motivational and educational workshops for young girls and is held at various schools in my community. I believe that being a blessing to others has truly enriched my life.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants won: Miss Soweto 2010 (Second Princess), Miss Personality and Miss Mamelodi Sundowns 2014 (Second Princess).
Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? As a little girl I would watch the Miss South Africa pageant and tell myself that one day I would be taking part. I dreamt that I would wear those shiny dresses, strutting my stuff down the runway with that amazing sparkle in my eye and my heart bursting with joy and excitement. I believe everything I am, every obstacle I have faced, and everything I have achieved, has led me to this point. Being Miss South Africa will allow me to reach out to more young people than I am currently able to do. I want to motivate them to rise to the challenge of building a better and brighter future as South Africans.

Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you and why? Bokang Montjane. She was born and raised in a village called Ga-Mphahlele in Limpopo and won the prestigious title, showing that it doesn’t matter where you come from, but what matters is where you are going. I am from a community in the south of Johannesburg that is known to be poverty stricken and troubled, but I believe that I have what it takes to become a beacon of hope for my community. I believe, too, that small town girls have what it takes to become an ambassador for their country.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? My role model is my grandmother. Growing up with her has made me the confident young woman I am today. She has inspired me to be the best possible version of myself by teaching me to believe in myself, to remain humble and to pray.My mother has inspired me by overcoming her drug addiction. She has faced many obstacles throughout her life and watching her go through these obstacles has taught me that it doesn’t matter how far down you fall… you can always get up, dust yourself off and start building again. I salute her!
Tell us a bit more about your family: I grew up with my grandmother, mother and younger sister. My grandmother is my favourite person in the world and I thank God for the blessing I have had to constantly be around her throughout my life. She is the wisest and most selfless person I know. She is a 67-year- old retired teacher and the founder of POCCO. I have a younger sister, Micheala, who will be finishing primary school and starts her schooling career at the National School of Arts, majoring in drama studies. My mother, Karen, is a high school teacher and the silliest, most fun-loving person I know. When the two of us are together there is always laughter and joy around.
What do you do in your spare time? I love spending time with my family and friends, playing board games. I am the champion at the games Rummikub and 30 Seconds. When I am with my four best friends we enjoy going on road trips and visiting different holiday destinations. When I have a few free hours to spare, my favourite thing to do is to go out to the mall with my girls. I dance to stay fit and belong to a spiritual dance group at my church.I also enjoy curling up with a good book, watching a romantic comedy or an action movie, depending on my mood. Some of the other activities I love doing are baking, cooking, singing, and swimming.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? It’s not where you come from but where you are going and never let any situation or encounter define who you are. You are more than your struggle and more than your tragedy. You can be and do anything if you believe in yourself. Don’t ever lose the little girl you are or once were as you grow up. Dreaming makes life beautiful and one day fulfilling your dreams will make life worth it. Finally, never forget to thank God for your blessings. Believe in yourself. Be yourself!
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? I would have loved to have met Nelson Mandela and thank him for everything he has done for this beautiful country I am blessed to call home. Meeting Charlize Theron would also be an honour. She has been one of the women who has carried the South African flag high by becoming the first South African to win an Academy Award. The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project inspired me to start my own NPO.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? That I really am 23 years old instead of 16. Most people are astonished when I tell them how old I am. I look much younger and that’s a blessing that will come in handy in the next 15years.
What are you reading? I have just finished reading The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I read it as research for The Pearl Project. I love borrowing books from the library instead of buying them. Visiting the library makes the experience of reading more exciting.

What is on your iPod? I recently added the new Chris Brown album. I love RnB and Pop music but my playlist consists of a little bit of every genre, even reggae. I have to start my day with my favourite song: William McDowell featuring Blanca – Closer (Wrap Me in Your Arms).
Your favourite TV show? I do not spend a lot of time watching television but my favourite series is Suits (I have the biggest crush on the character Harvey Specter).
Your favourite meal? I absolutely love sushi and prawns and I cannot pass a Cinnabon store without having a little cinnamon bun.
Anything else you would like to add? My motto is: I will never fit in because I was born to stand out!


Name: Nicole Lamberts
Area: Idas Valley, Stellenbosch, Western Cape
Age: 24
Occupation: I’m currently going into my final, honours year of B. Occupational Therapy. I’ve just completed my 3rd year of the degree and am studying at the Tygerberg Medical Campus, a division of Stellenbosch University. Occupational therapy helps reintegrate people back into society by using medical-based treatments.
Previous beauty competitions/pageants won: Miss Stellenbosch 2012 and Miss Veet 2013

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 have a burning passion for my country and, more specifically, for its citizens. I would be proud to stand tall as a leader in our diverse country with its unique individuals, striving for a bright future in which we can all thrive. I want to be a role model not only for women and children but for men as well. I want to be someone that the people in my community can be proud of and to give them the hope that we can all achieve bigger and better things in our lives by believing in our dreams. No matter how tough the going gets, we must stay confident. There is diversity in me which, I believe, will help connect me with the whole country. I want to bring to this platform the dynamics of occupational therapy which carries the message of individual independence.
Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you and why? Every Miss South Africa brings unique characteristics to their reign and each titleholder has the characteristics to inspire, which I believe is a prerequisite for the competition. Every year I am inspired by them in different ways. My favourite Miss South Africa is Jo-Ann Strauss. She stood tall and achieved great things in her life. She left her mark with many initiatives, including the Princess Project, which gave young women the opportunity to attend their Matric dance. She also came from Cape Town, studied at the University of Stellenbosch and appears to have a family just like mine; warm and loving. I feel I can relate to her and she motivates me. I also love Melinda and Rolene too. There is Melinda’s passion, confidence and drive and Rolene’s sweet soul and pure heart. It’s all inspiring!
Who are your role models/ who inspired you and why? My father Hilton is my biggest role model. I am lucky to be able to speak to him on a daily basis when I need advice. He is also a man who is passionate about change and enjoys thinking big and outside the box. He inspired me when I was growing up and taught me the beauty of little things in life such as trust and respect, working hard and playing hard. He told me to let go of grudges and never be held back by things of the past.
Tell us a bit more about your family: I live with my family in the same house in which I was born. Many of my friends come from broken homes and I know how blessed I am to have a strong family unit who is supportive and caring, and we are all living under one roof. They have given me the foundation I need to prosper and the stability I need to grow into a well- rounded woman. My dad, Hilton, is in the engineering business and works as a technical trainer at Appletiser. My mother, Yolanda, comes from Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town, and is a home executive. She is a breast cancer survivor and a strong woman of God who stopped working after my sister Kayler was born. Kayler is 16 and attends Rhenish Girls High School, Stellenbosch. We are a huge family. My mom and dad have many brothers and sisters and we love getting together on holidays and making lots of food and desserts and eating till our tummies hurt.

What do you do in your spare time? I enjoy spending time with my friends and family and I love to travel. I’ve been lucky to have had the opportunity to travel through Europe and to parts of the United States. I don’t have much time off as I’m always studying. The only books I read are on child development or text books on anatomy. I have also started making bracelets through a technique called macramé. It’s something I learnt in my first year in therapy techniques, which I apply to the patients we deal with in the communities. I love to spend time outdoors, going to the beach or hiking up Lions Head. I enjoy being close to nature and absorbing natural vitamin D from the sun and keeping fit and active through gym and Pilates.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? My message is a simple one. It’s something I was told on the last day of high school – you are the creator of your own happiness. Happiness is a state of being and relies on no one but yourself. Once you can find your happiness, no one can take that from you, no matter who they are, or in what situation you find yourself. Embrace who you are and let it shine. Don’t be afraid of how high the sky is; instead soar through it and go as high as you possibly can. Wear a parachute so that you’re always safe, but spread your wings with confidence. Live your best life and always be in pursuit of happiness.
If you won the Miss South Africa crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? I would love to meet Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health. I think it would be perfect because I am studying a health science and have spent a lot of time in government hospitals working and gaining practical experience. It would be an amazing opportunity to discuss my view and aspects concerning the health situation in South Africa and more specifically my speciality subject, occupational therapy, and the role it can play in empowering our people.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? One thing that people will be surprised about me is that I love collecting spoons; interesting spoons and those that my grandma has treasured over the years. I brought back spoons from my travels abroad. It’s different and a quite surprising hobby of mine.
What are you reading? I’m currently reading articles on the prevalence of movement disorders in pre-school children on the West Coast, in the Western Cape, and its impact on learning and on various other aspects of these children’s lives. These readings are all for my literature review, for my honours research in occupational therapy paediatrics.
What is on your iPod? I don’t have an iPod but I bought a few CDs a couple of days ago! I think the last time I bought a CD was when I was a teenager. At the moment I’m listening to Jack Johnson and Cafe del Mar which is very mellow
What is your favourite TV show? I don’t watch television that often but I have to admit I love 7de Laan.
What is your favourite meal? I enjoy eating a good home-cooked meal made by my mother, she’s the best cook. I enjoy a Sunday lunch roast and every now and then a good old tjoppie on the braai.
Anything else you want to add? I am very much a people’s person. I am agreeable and I love to learn about other people, their cultures and their way of living. I am intrigued by how the mind works. I’m passionate about what I do every day and about my future and am blessed to have the ability to lead without a title. I like being a motivational speaker like Robin Sharma who talks about someone who lives by the motto of taking your limitations and turning them into an opportunity, then taking that opportunity and turn it into an adventure by dreaming big!


Name: Ntsiki Mkhize
Region: Kliprivier, Midvaal, Gauteng
Age: 23
Occupation: I hold a BCom Marketing Management and a BCom Honours in Logistics Management from the University of Johannesburg. After obtaining my undergraduate degree I began working in sales as a client executive at 21st Century Pay Solutions Group. This was prior to my recent appointment as partnerships and events manager for Small Business Connect. I love this position as it’s a perfect outlet for my passion for small business and entrepreneurship, particularly among African youth and women.
Previous pageants won: Miss Spring Queen (2007) and Miss Annirand, University of Johannesburg (2010).

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? I firmly believe the pageant is an incredible platform for any young woman aiming for the stars. Having had the privilege of witnessing many other phenomenal women from humble beginnings reach great heights, I’m also inspired and given hope that I can also achieve greatness and inspire young girls and women. I have entered the pageant three times and each year I dust myself off and try again because I owe it to myself. I believe that winning the title alone would be a story of resilience that I deem a necessary reminder to our people to never give up on their dreams. I am confident that I have the right qualities to wear the crown with grace, become a positive role model and a relatable ambassador for the country. I would like to use the platform to inculcate the culture of entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency among our youth and to encourage more women to own their own businesses. I believe I will bring to the role a mature understanding of what the role of Miss South Africa embodies. I am optimistic, enthusiastic and a dedicated personality, with a love for people and genuine passion for South Africa and the continent.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you and why? Basetsana Kumalo. I believe she embodies the essence of a Miss South Africa and is an example of beauty with substance. She is a philanthropist, a shrewd business woman and a proud South African. I am inspired by her resilience and staying power. Years after her crowning, she remains a relevant Miss South Africa title holder

Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? My grandmother and Dr Mampela Rampele inspire me. My gran, who recently turned 86, is an inspiration because she embodies the strength of a woman. She was a single mother and a domestic worker with a Grade 3 education, but she managed to raise empowered children who made their own successes. Her character exudes effortless humility.
Dr Rampele inspires me as I believe her life is such a success story by making something out of nothing. She shows the importance of education, setting and achieving goals, as well as breaking the glass ceiling in your life.

Tell us a bit more about your family? Having lived in the township as a child and then in the suburbs, my dad thought it would be a great idea to move to a farm. He is a people’s person at heart and a natural businessman; he is a qualified optometrist and spends his time farming when he is not practicing. My mother is a dietician who works for the Department of Health and specialises in child nutrition. My parents met in varsity and have been together for 24 years. My father is the calculated go-getter and my mom brings calm and warmth into every situation. I have learnt so much from them. I have an 18 year old sister who has just finished matric. She is creative and would like to study graphic design, architecture or psychology. My sister is fun, she knows me better than anyone and I can always trust her to give me her honest opinion.
What do you do in your spare time? In the little down time I have I enjoy reading and writing. I try to sneak in a dance class or I go running when I can as a change from my gym routine.
What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? My message is: You are enough, you matter and you are worthy!
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? As Miss South Africa the one person I’d like to meet is the young woman who feels unworthy, confused and scared. I would like to say to her: No matter where you are now, things will work out. Chin up queen, otherwise the crown will fall.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? Most people are surprised when they find out I used to play touch rugby and I trained with Easterns. Most would be surprised to know I teach Children’s Ministry (Sunday school) at the Christian Family Church International.
What are you reading? Africa’s Future: Darkness to Destiny by Duncan Clarke
What is on you iPod: I am currently listening to South Africa’s new hip hop which has grown and taken on its own identity that I think most people appreciate. I have some We Will Worship and Hillsong.
Your favourite TV show: I don’t get much time to watch TV, but I enjoy crime investigation shows like CSI, NCIS and Law and Order and good comedies.


Name: Refilwe Mthimunye
Region: Bronkhorstspruit, Tshwane, Gauteng
Age: 22
Occupation: I’m currently doing my 3rd year in LLB Law at the University of South Africa. The reason I’m studying law is I feel that to be a great leader and politician one needs to know the laws oneself. I’m doing my degree part time as I am pursuing my modelling career with the help of Alushi Models Management.
Previous beauty competitions? I’m currently Miss Sundown’s 2nd princess 2013 nationally and provincially for Gauteng. I was also placed as 2nd princess in 2012 for Miss Varsity College, Pretoria.

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you’ll bring to the role? I would love to be Miss South Africa because I feel that we all have a purpose in life and a part of this purpose is to give back and be a blessing to others. This opportunity would help me fulfil this purpose. My role is to serve as the voice of my fellow citizens, especially those who don’t have basic and fundamental rights and privileges in this country. I’d also like to assist in trying to make South Africa a better country.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you and why? Bokang Montjane inspires me. This Miss South Africa 2010 is the founder and director of Bokang Legacy, a producer at PulseTV and she also produces a talk show on SABC 1 called Zaziwa. I feel that in the last four years, and at such a young age, she has managed to achieve so much by using all the platforms given to her. She has also given back greatly to her Limpopo Province. Even after Miss South Africa she still continues to give back to the country. For me she has been a great leader and has motivated me a lot.
Who are you role models/who has inspired you and why? Firstly, it would have to be my mother. She motivates me on a daily basis to be the best I can. She not only shows me the right way of doing things, but also tries to be the best person she can be. For me she is a true leader, someone who leads by example. Secondly, it would have to be Mr Patrice Motsepe who is the founder of Motsepe Foundation. By taking part in Miss Sundowns, I believe I learned a lot from him. This is a man who gives back with an open heart. He has changed the lives of many people in country, including me. Not only does Mr Motsepe give back with his funding, but in his busy schedule he still manages to be physically present at every charity event that has been organised. This country would be a better country if we all had his heart.

Tell us a bit more about your family: I come from the best females only household ever. My mother, Gladys, works for the South African Police Services and is a Commissioner at the Cullinan police station. She is the strongest woman I know and I really look up to her. She is my number one fan always. Unfortunately my father died when I was just eight. I am my mother’s first daughter, which I enjoy because I get to be second in charge at home. I have two younger sisters, Thokozile (21), who is a student at Tshwane University of Technology doing her second year in work study, and Zanele (15) who is preparing for Grade 10 next year. I also have a step-brother, Thomas, who doesn’t live with us. I love all my sisters. We all have crazy personalities and are very loud. These women know me very well and when it comes to pageants they advise me a lot.

What do you do in your spare time? I love playing action netball with my friends which is indoor netball. We actually started our own team this year where we participate in tournaments and get to play against other teams. The first season we got placed second. I love playing basketball and also enjoy watching soccer. Basically, I’m a very sporty person. I love singing especially with my younger sister who has a great voice. Right now we are obsessed with Sam Smith. When I don’t have to read my law textbooks I enjoy reading newspapers. During the year 2013/14, I worked a lot with the Motsepe Foundation. We gave talks to primary schools and went around communities handing out toys to children. I’ve grown to love making people happy, so helping out where I am needed has become a hobby for me.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? As young women of today we have many opportunities to make our mark in the universe. I say we take advantage of these opportunities so we can raise future leaders. We need to stand together and should not allow society to dictate our roles. Everything we do we should put God first and the rest will follow.

If you won the Miss South Africa crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? If I won Miss South Africa and was given the chance to meet one person it would have to be Oprah Winfrey. This woman has been to our country many times and has opened a school here. I would love to have tea with her. There is so much wisdom within her that I would love to receive. Every time I watch her motivate people she makes me feel like all my goals are attainable.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? Most of the time I might come across as a reserved and focused person until you get to know me. I have been described as crazy which does lead me to being outspoken and creative most of the time.
What are you reading? The Confident Woman by Joyce Meyer. I went through a rough time at the beginning of this year, so I would say this is my healing book.
What is on your iPod? Josh Groban, Michael Bublè, Chris Brown, Beyoncé, Adele, Khuli Chana, uhuru, and Sam Smith. Basically, I listen to any music that has been well produced and it doesn’t matter which genre it is. In high school I used to take music as subject so I learned to appreciate all kinds of music.
Your favourite TV show? It has to be Scandal (The Fixer). I’m addicted and as a law student I feel it gives me so much insight on how politics works, which is frightening but exciting at the same time. I also love listening to the radio.
Your favourite meal? I love our South African indigenous food. Every time I go to hotels I get just a little depressed because I start missing the real-deal kind of food.
Anything else you would love to add? One day I hope to have my own slot on Metro FM and I prepare myself by volunteering for MamsFM, the Mamelodi local community radio station.


Name: Shané Naidoo
Region: Farrarmere, Benoni, Gauteng
Age: 22
Occupation: I am a third year student studying towards a degree in Industrial Engineering at Wits. I am studying engineering because I enjoy the challenge that the course presents. Industrial engineering is the perfect combination of engineering and the business field. The industrial engineering environment allows me to be creative and innovative while still applying logic and working with numbers. It’s a field that focuses on optimising and improving, which is something that speaks to me on so many different levels, as the knowledge obtained from this programme can be applied to a multitude of different areas in my life.

Why do you want to be Miss South Africa and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? Entering Miss South Africa means fulfilling a lifelong dream and embarking on a journey of self-discovery. I am confident that I will be a worthy leader and an ambassador for our country. I believe that I possess the strength, determination and confidence to represent our country on a national and international level. I have passion and compassion, and believe that our people are our greatest asset. I aim to combine my personal goals and strengths with those of the Miss South Africa organisation to make a positive social impact in our society by means of engaging with our people and emphasising their strengths. I want to be a role model to young women across the country and an ambassador for women’s empowerment.

Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you and why? Melinda Bam. I believe she fits in with the youth of today. She used the Miss South Africa platform so well to make a name for herself, thereby gaining access to reaching so many people across the country and beyond our borders. I believe that the Miss South Africa brand evolved with her crowning. I admire how fearless she is with regards to embracing her feminism.
Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? To me, Oprah Winfrey embodies everything that a strong, successful woman should be. Her life is the ultimate success story. She is a true example of persistence and determination. Her teachings are empowering and I admire the way she uses her platform to reach out to millions of people across the world and touch so many lives. She inspires me on both a personal and a professional level. Also my mother, Suvesha Harbhajan, has taught me so many lessons in life, one of the most important being that no matter where you come from or how little you have, a dream and hardwork will take you places beyond your imagination.

Tell us a bit more about your family: I reside with my parents in Benoni. My mom is an ex-teacher and entrepreneur and my dad is the technical manager of a cement ready-mix manufacturing company. My parents are supportive, encouraging and young at heart. I have a great relationship with them. I have one sibling, my sister who resides in Qatar in the UAE. She’s my biggest supporter and best friend. Despite her living abroad, we maintain a strong bond, and our weekly Skype calls are a must in our family. My parents raised both of us with strong morals and values, and taught us how to be independent women. Lastly, we have four additional members to our family, our dogs: Lady, Polo, Jojo and Kayla.
What do you do in your spare time? I enjoy keeping active. I work out at the gym and attend power boxing classes or I jog with my mom. I also enjoy getting lost in a good book when I have time to myself, which allows me to unwind and relax.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? If you can dream it, you can achieve it. Nothing comes easily, so if you want great things in your life you have to work hard in order to reap the benefits. South Africa has so much potential for growth, and being part of such a dynamic generation allows for endless opportunities. We are the future leaders so make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Embrace your feminism and be a go-getter!
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? I would definitely want to meet Oprah Winfrey. She is such an inspirational woman whom I look up to in so many ways. I attended the Live Your Best Life show that she held in Johannesburg last year. Although I got to see her live, I didn’t get the chance to converse with her. I would love the opportunity to pick her brain and gain knowledge and wisdom from such an esteemed woman.
What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie. I’ve been bungee jumping, zip-lining, swimming with dolphins and I have experienced sky-diving simulation. Next on my bucket list is conquering the Soweto Tower. One day I would like to skydive over the Palm Islands in Dubai. I crave adventure!
What are you reading? I’m reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
What is on your IPod? I am listening to Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran (whose album is played on repeat!)
Your favourite TV show? Suits because I enjoy the stylish and sophisticated nature of the series.
Your favourite meal? My mom’s chicken biryani. Nothing compares to hearty-home cooking.
Anything else you would like to add? Through this journey, I would like to accomplish many goals that I have set for myself. Thus far I have been involved with small-scale charity events and projects. I would like to be more involved on a larger scale with charity events and being able to give back. The Miss South Africa platform will allow me to fulfil those goals and achieve big things.


Name: Sihle Makhanya
Region: Panorama, Empangeni, KZN
Age: 23
Occupation: I work fulltime for Makhanya’s Services as a junior quantity surveyor technician intern. I’m also completing my quantity surveyor diploma on a part-time basis and since I’ve already done my training, I’m two modules away from completion and I can’t wait!

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 a passion for my country. The opportunities it has afforded me as a young woman have been endless and now I want to say thank you through giving back. I’m excited to work with the different charities that the Miss South Africa organisation deals with, but I’d also like to use this platform as a voice for the community. I would really love to focus on being the voice for those who do not have one.

Who is a previous Miss South Africa who has inspired you and why? Tatum Keshwar, Miss SA 2008. I met her during my matric year when I was at a low point in my life. She spoke about positivity which changed how I looked at myself as a woman and as a South African. She empowered me and that is how a Miss South Africa should be. I doubt she remembers this incident, but I do and that’s the impact I’d like to have on young girls and on Miss South Africa.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? My parents. My dad is in construction and my mom is a recently retired teacher. Using their skills, they have worked hand in hand King Nkosi Mzimela of Eshowe, Kwa-Zulu Natal, to help build a school for primary school children in the rural area. Their actions have shown me that you do not need a lot to make a difference in a person’s life. You can invest in helping people without expecting anything in return, and you can make a difference.

Tell us a bit more about your family: There’s my dad, my mom and my older sister, Nomqhele ‘Q’, who runs an NGO that helps in rural development. She has three children, Lizo, Langa and Sandza. I have an older brother who is 30 and works as a stockbroker and entertainer. I lost a sister, Zandi. Growing up as the youngest was interesting and fun because I was a tomboy and often got into trouble.

What do you do in your spare time? When I’m not jogging or doing sporting activities, I’m soaking in a nice warm bath or simply relaxing. I work hard so I try my best to stay healthy through sports, but also give my body a break now and then.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? We need to start believing that we are more than beautiful. We are smart, we are driven and we are world changers. The potential we have is unbelievable and our beautiful South Africa has opened every door for us to dream and achieve beyond our wildest imagination. Let’s take this opportunity and use it to show the world that we can do it without losing our femininity.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? I love maths! I used to do people’s assignments in my maths high school class and they would pay me. I was a boarder and some girls were day scholars, so if our lunch for the day in the kitchen wasn’t nice, I’d do assignments for sandwiches and sometimes money. I’d use that money to pay for my swimming classes as I was a good swimmer in those days.
What are you reading? Why “A” Students Work For “C” Students by Robert Kiyosaki. I’m a very business minded person and this book is opening up my eyes to making financial decisions for my future.
What is on your iPod? Dietrick Haddon, Enya, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Drake, Joyous Celebration, TD Jakes, Hillsong, Donnie McClurkin and Khaya Mthethwa.
Your favourite TV show? CSI, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, Beverly Hills, New York and Miami.
Your favourite meal? I’m a Zulu girl through and through so anything traditional such as tripe with amadombolo (dumplings) or my mom’s jeqe (traditional Zulu bread).
Anything else you would like to add? I was really sporty and enjoyed interacting with other young girls when growing up. I found that sports did not only give me discipline but also confidence. This helped me see my potential. If I were to become Miss South Africa I’d love to use sport and the arts as tools to empower young woman to not only dream but also see their true potential.


Name: Taryn Morris
Region: Camps Bay, Cape Town, Western Cape
Age: 25
Occupation: I studied BCom marketing at Varsity College through UNISA. When I graduated I knew I wanted to go into the marketing side of the fashion industry. I am currently working for a fashion distribution company. I am their brand manager and marketing co-ordinator, and I have recently been appointed to run all their sales in Johannesburg. I also model part time.

Why do you want to be Miss SA and what do you think you will be able to bring to the role? I want to win Miss South Africa as I think it is an ideal platform to be able to represent my country in the best way possible. I value the fact that it would allow me to truly make a difference in South Africa. I believe I have what it takes as I am determined, compassionate, well-educated and a strong independent woman with a big personality who’s not afraid to speak her mind. I believe that inner beauty is as important and I would find it extremely fulfilling to be able to influence my country in a positive way, and to help those in need and to inspire other South Africans to do the same. It would be an honour for me to represent the Miss South Africa and Sun International brand and everything it stands for.

Who is a previous Miss SA who has inspired you and why? The previous Miss South Africa who has inspired me most would have to be Melinda Bam. She is such a beautiful, graceful and down-to-earth woman who really left her mark when she was crowned Miss South Africa.

Who are your role models/who has inspired you and why? My role models would have to be my parents. My dad is successful in everything he does and the drive and ambition he possesses is beyond inspiring. He always gives me the best advice and I know I can always count on him. My mom has always taught me good life lessons, but most importantly she has taught me how to laugh and have fun and has encompassed such good morals within me. She has the amazing ability to always look on the bright side of everything and to always remain positive. My mom was also a Miss South Africa semi-finalist, so she has been my biggest inspiration, support and motivator throughout this whole experience.

Tell us a bit more about your family? My mom and I are very close, we are more like sisters than mother and daughter and we always giggle at everything when we are together. My mom runs her own business as a clothing and accessories agent, and also has her helicopter pilot’s license. Besides my brother and me, our three dogs are her obsession. My dad lives in Australia but we are closer than most children who see their fathers every day. I look up to him in so many ways, and he is the kindest person I know. He is also in the fashion industry and runs a holding company in Australia. My brother has just turned 21, which is hard to believe because I will always see him as my baby brother. He is a qualified medic and is always out to help others. We have always been exceptionally close and share a very special bond.

What do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I love to hang out with my friends and family. I am a typical Capetownian who loves the beach, and I have every reason to with the beautiful beaches with which we are blessed. Socially I love to experience new restaurants with friends; I am a big foodie so I love trying different dishes. I am also a big music lover and in my spare time enjoy relaxing and watching movies. I also love going for long walks on the promenade with my dogs. There is nothing more peaceful and rejuvenating.

What is your message to young girls and young women in South Africa? My message would be to always believe in yourself, follow your heart and never let anyone take advantage of you. We are all worthy and deserve to be treated that way.
If you won the Miss SA crown and were able to meet one person, who would it be and why? If I were able to meet one person it would have to be Oprah Winfrey. I think that she is such an incredible woman who has achieved so much. Even though she had a difficult upbringing, she still managed to become the woman she is today. I love how humble she is and how her number one focus has always been to give back, but most importantly her passion for education. She even opened a school in South Africa for young girls which is truly amazing.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you? The one thing that most surprises people about me is that I’m a sports fanatic! I absolutely love watching all sports, my favourites being cricket, soccer and rugby. I am also an avid Arsenal supporter!

What are you reading? I am currently reading Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. It is such a moving story and it teaches us so much about our history and all the struggles of apartheid. It also shows us how much Madiba really did for our country and what a legend he was and always will be.
What is on your iPod? I love all music, as long as it has lyrics! I have everything on my iPod from old school Michael Jackson, to more chilled Sam Smith to pop like Beyoncé and even hip hop and rap from Jay Z.
Your favourite TV show? My all-time favourite TV show would have to be Friends. It is such a classic that it never fails to make me laugh and I think I have seen each episode 10 times!
Your favourite meal? My favourite meal is spaghetti bolognaise. It has always been a childhood favourite of mine, and reminds me of my mom’s home cooked meals.
Anything else you would like to add? I am so excited about my Miss South Africa 2015 journey and I truly consider it such an honour. I look forward to whatever comes my way and I can’t wait to meet all the other semi-finalists and to learn and grow through this incredible experience.

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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