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By Tanya Farber and Staff Reporter
Charlize Theron has fended off criticism over her American accent by saying it "helped me to survive".
At a press conference on Tuesday morning at the Westcliff Hotel, Theron explained that acquiring the accent was part of "moulding" herself for a successful career.
"I have always gotten into trouble for speaking with an American accent," she said, "but that is what has helped me to survive.
"There are 4 000 other girls out there wanting to do the same thing, so I do what I need to do, and if you are not willing to make adjustments to how you speak, it's never going to happen."
She pointed out, however, that this did not mean she had "sold out" or "forgotten about being a South African".
"I didn't get this accent overnight, and I am highly criticised for it, but I am a South African."
As for her hometown, Benoni, she said: "There's an honest want in me to always go back and see how it looks and how it has changed."
Her current trip has enabled her to do just that. She has already met up with old schoolfriends and, as she described it, "partied a little too much two days ago".
She said returning to Benoni made her feel "very nostalgic".
"I think all people are sentimental when it comes to where they grew up. I can drive by a corner there and remember falling off my bike, or something like that."
Theron arrived in the country on Saturday and her public appearances are to be kept to a minimum.
While she's here, though, her safety is in the hands of Adrian Heijns, the man who gained notoriety for giving the Springboks hell at the infamous Kamp Staaldraad.
The former police taskforce commander, known as "007" to the Bok players, is the director of Pro-Tect International, which specialises in security for VIPs.
He has been tasked with keeping any overly enthusiastic Theron fans firmly at bay while she's here.