The all-female judging line-up comprises some of the country’s most respected and influential personalities including former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi (2019) and Miss World Rolene Strauss (2014) as well as award-winning investigative journalist Devi Sankaree Govender, businesswoman and Miss South Africa 1990 Suzette van der Merwe and actor and TV personality Thando Thabethe.
The Miss South Africa pageant, which takes place at Sun International’s flagship venue, the SunBet Arena at Time Square, Pretoria, promises to be a spectacular and entertainment-packed show and takes place during Women’s Month. Miss South Africa 2022 will be broadcast live on Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161) and Mnet (DStv Channel 101) on 13 August from 6.30pm and streamed for an international audience on the Miss South Africa app.
Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela is a South African advocate and professor of law who has held a chair in social justice at Stellenbosch University since January 2018. She served as the Public Protector of South Africa from 2009 to 2016. In 1996, she helped draft the final constitution of South Africa promulgated by then President Nelson Mandela.
Madonsela said she is looking for “an inspirational leader who believes in the possibility of and is playing her part to build a more just world” for Miss South Africa. “I am looking for a virtuous woman who walks tall in her covenant blessings. A woman on an urgent mission. A woman who is not confined to one particular role but demonstrates the capacity to live a life filled with purpose,” she said.
Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned Miss Universe last December, taking the crown back to India for the first time in 20 years. She draws her inspiration from her mother who broke generations of patriarchy to become a successful gynaecologist. Deeply conscious of the privilege her mother's struggles have gifted her, Sandhu is a strong advocate for women's empowerment, particularly their constitutional rights to education, careers and freedom of choice. She is an actor with two Punjabi films slated for release this year.
“South Africa has been a strong contender every year at Miss Universe and it’s my true honour to meet the beautiful young women who are competing for the crown this year. I’m looking forward to learning more about their personalities and seeing them in person. I am excited to see who the new winner will be who will proudly represent her country,” Sandhu said.
Zozibini Tunzi was the third Miss South Africa to be crowned Miss Universe in 2019. Tunzi – who was one of the judges in 2020 – makes her acting debut in The Woman King which is scheduled for release later this year. The American historical epic tells the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey (in present-day Benin) in the 1800s and also stars Viola Davis and John Boyega.
Advising finalists, Tunzi said “Every single thing and stage you have gone through in your life has prepared you for this moment. There’s no mistake. You are there because you belong, so act like you belong, walk like you belong and speak like you belong.”
Rolene Strauss was the third South African to wear the Miss World crown. She is currently chairperson of the non-profit organisation The Strauss Foundation. Strauss – who is a qualified medical doctor – received her master’s degree in Philosophy and Management Coaching (cum laude) at the University of Stellenbosch Business School this year, released her new book Rediscover Your Self Confidence and is a successful transformational life coach.
“A Miss South Africa to me is a well-rounded, beautiful (of course) and balanced woman. Someone who can be vulnerable, yet strong; someone who is both real and aspirational; a woman who is content with who she is yet striving to be the best version of herself; and someone who can represent our beautiful country internationally!” she said.
Devi Sankaree Govender is an award-winning investigative television journalist who has spent the past 29 years in the media after starting out on radio before moving to print and television. Govender, an MBA graduate, worked for Carte Blanche for 18 years and gained a reputation for being fearless in highlighting corruption and crime. She hosts The Devi Show which airs on e.tv and ENCA.
“Our country stands on the shoulders of women who refused to give up yet South Africa is still one of the most dangerous places to live, especially if you are a woman. Miss South Africa isn’t just an ambassador for our country but a voice for active citizenry – because change has to come,” she said.
After her reign as Miss South Africa in 1990, Suzette van der Merwe started a successful business career including a role managing Cell C’s women sponsorship properties which included a five-year headline sponsorship of Miss South Africa from 2014 to 2019.
“Similar to our national sports teams and stars, Miss South Africa contributes to nation building and pride, especially when they excel internationally and hold the South African flag high. I’ll be looking for that unique spark and qualities that will not only inspire the hearts of the people of our nation, but a winner who will represent us on the world stage,” she said.
Thando Thabethe is an actress and radio personality. She is currently host of 94.7 Drive with Thando and has played the leading lady in some of South Africa’s biggest television productions including Housekeepers, How To Ruin Christmas and Reyka. She is also the founder of Thabootys Underwear and Shapewear and a Forbes Africa's 30 Under 30 graduate. Thabethe was also one of the judges who chose the Top 10 this year.
“Being a part of this incredible journey with these young women has been life-changing; not only for the girls but for all involved. The love and care that the Miss South Africa Organisation offers these women is simply spectacular and encourages them to be the best versions of themselves,” she said.
Miss South Africa 2022 will take home prizes and sponsorships worth more than R3m. The Top 10 competing for the crown are Anarzade Omar, Ayanda Thabethe, Itumeleng Parage, Keaoleboga Nkashe, Lebogang Mahlangu, Luvé Meyer, Luyanda Zuma, Ndavi Nokeri, Pearl Ntshehi and Tamsyn Jack.