This was after pictures of the beauty queen began circulating on social media, showing her holding black children’s hands while wearing gloves. The images stem from the 22-year-old’s visit to a Joburg feeding scheme.
Nel-Peters was one of the volunteers at the pop-up soup kitchen, organised by Sun International’s Maslow Hotel, at the Orlando West community centre Ikageng in Soweto on Wednesday.
Despite the charitable deed, many Twitter users accused the beauty queen of wearing the gloves “because she didn’t want to touch black children”.
@PatsiPhala tweeted: “I hear this lady is @Official_MissSA, can anyone explain why is she feeding BLACK kids with latex gloves?”
@MTshwaku added: “Miss SA Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters had to use surgical gloves to feed children in Soweto #whitedominancemustfall.”
But Nel-Peters insists that she wore them for sanitary purposes and strongly denied any racial reasons for her action. In a video posted on her Twitter account, she explained that all those who worked with the food had to wear gloves to avoid passing any infections to the kids. Ikageng programme director Carol Dyantyi also maintained that all volunteers, including their own staffers, were required to wear gloves during the food preparation.
“It was mandatory,” she insisted. Dyantyi explained that one of the images in question regarding Miss SA wearing the gloves while interacting with the youngsters, arose during a touching moment.
“The story behind one of the pictures is fantastic. An 8-year-old deaf girl wanted to teach Demi-Leigh how to say ‘thank you’ in sign language while Demi was still involved in food preparation. Demi was only too happy to pose for a picture.” Nel-Peters said: “I am really disappointed that my intentions were completely misunderstood. “I really apologise if I offended anyone, it definitely wasn’t my intention and I’m sorry about that.” Despite the condemnation, many have come to Nel-Peters’ defence.
@Mdue_Dlamini tweeted: “Out here labelling Miss SA a racist when she was feeding hungry kids when you’ve never helped a blind man cross the road.Ya’ll can be boring.”
@dlamini_d_ posted: “This whole Miss SA thing is just blown out of proportion, geez you people are so sensitive.”