The judging panel for the Miss South Africa Pageant 2016 has been announced with the appointment of new judge, former Miss South Africa 1994 and leading businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo.
Three of last year’s judges return for 2016: entrepreneur, poet, writer and former magazine editor, Kojo Baffoe; actress and TV personality Sophie Ndaba and Bloemfontein designer Casper Bosman. Also back is magazine editor and style icon Pnina Fenster who judged the competition in 2014 when Rolene Strauss, who went on to become Miss World, took the Miss South Africa crown.
Regarded as leaders and trendsetters in their respective fields, they will be judging the Top 12 contestants on an array of criteria including their leadership qualities, communication skills, beauty and talent, physical fitness and a dedication to community service.
Says new judge Basetsana Kumalo: “Miss South Africa is an incredible platform for any young woman and can change her career path. I am living testament of that and will be bringing my personal experience of what it is like to be on that stage, nerves and all! Miss South Africa is not just about strutting your stuff on stage for the night and then doing nothing beyond that. As a television producer for the past 22 years, I have a sense of what makes for great talent. It’s not just about the aesthetics but rather about intelligence, a sense of purpose, a good work ethic, a drive and a vision that extends beyond the year of her reign.”
She explains what she will be looking for in a potential Miss South Africa: “We live in a country with many challenges and opportunities. I will be looking for someone who understands that narrative and can use their role as an ambassador of a nation that is 22 years into its democracy to inspire a new generation.”
Baffoe believes that with three years of judging the competition he now has a stronger understanding of what it entails: “The most important attributes a potential Miss South Africa can have are kindness, authenticity and humility. Miss South Africa needs to put everyone around them at ease and have the ability to interact with people across all spaces in South Africa and beyond. Being Miss South Africa is the ultimate ‘learning-on-the-job’ experience.”
His advice to the candidates: “Don’t try to be what you are not. You are good enough so let the judges see you as opposed to an idea of who you think we want you to be. We see through it every time.”
This is a sentiment echoed by Casper Bosman who has worked with six former Miss South Africa’s and designed Miss World pageant gowns for both Rolene Strauss and reigning Miss South Africa Liesl Laurie: “There is definitely no formula to win Miss South Africa. Don’t ever come across as being rehearsed or coached. It’s impossible to control the outcome of a pageant on this scale or to know what the panel of judges are looking for as a collective. Always be authentic and have a strong conviction in your views and beliefs. An honest answer counts so much more on the score sheets. Never ever fake it – your true colours will eventually show in a moment of weakness.”
For Bosman, Miss South Africa embodies the perfect synergy between outer and inner beauty.
Sophie Ndaba is looking for a confident young woman to truly represent the country through her inner beauty, strength, maturity and her natural compassion for those less fortunate: “A true beauty with a purpose candidate! Winning and taking on this role is not just about the title but rather the responsibility that comes with the crown,” she adds.
Pnina Fenster’s has some advice for all finalists: “Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience and know that, even if you are not the finalist, the pageant can lead to other wonderful opportunities. In the year in which I previously judged, for example, Ilze Saunders went on to become a brilliant Miss Earth, doing outstanding work for our environment, Ziphozakhe Zofuka, who was the first princess, became Miss South Africa after Rolene Strauss was crowned Miss World, and Mishka Patel and Jade Hubner are pursuing notable careers in media.”
So what will she be looking for in a potential Miss South Africa? “Beauty, smarts, personality, confidence and that indefinable X-factor!”
The Miss South Africa pageant, presented by Sun International in collaboration with Cell C, takes place at Carnival City on Saturday, March 19.
The 12 women who are in competition to be named Miss South Africa 2016 are: Elizabeth Molapo (Bloemfontein, Free State); Felicia Muwayi (Nelspruit, Mpumalanga); Luyolo Mngonyama (Umtata, Eastern Cape); Marciel Hopkins (Paarl, Western Cape); Mikaela Oosthuizen (Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape); Ntandoyenkosi Kunene (Mkhondo, Mpumalanga); Reabetswe Sechoaro (Pretoria East, Gauteng); Ronette Chambers (Cape Town, Western Cape); Sarah Botes (Vanderbijlpark, Gauteng); Schané Venter (Alberton, Gauteng); Sharon-Rose Khumalo (Pretoria, Gauteng) and Tayla Skye Robinson (Roodepoort, Gauteng).
Miss South Africa, presented by Sun International in collaboration with Cell C, takes place at Carnival City on Saturday, March 19, and will be televised on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) and Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161) from 17h00 to 19h00.