Zavion Kotze

Lara de Matos

In a fair world, he would have won.

Physically, he was unmatched. (Those who positioned Solly above him were swiftly silenced when he famously dragged the big man across the sand, with seemingly little effort.) Psychologically, the singular mental focus required of him as a decathlete served him well on Survivor. Socially, he was the type of chap everyone – well, most people – adored and as the only contender ever seen cheering on his fellow competitors (even at his own expense), he proved to be a good sport to boot.

But there is nothing just about the game that charges you to outwit, outplay, outlast. At any cost.

In a competition that could easily be realigned as one that requires you to lie, cheat and steal (as Dave dubbed it), Zavion Kotze is precisely the sort of player who would have been thrown overboard (metaphorically speaking, of course) from the start. Even his mama will tell you the fact he managed to make it this far is a miracle in itself!

“She thought I’d be the first person voted off,” reveals a laughing Mr Z during our tête-à-tête.

But while he readily admits his ousting came as “an epic blindside” (there’s that annoying word again), he’s proud of himself for having made it to the top five – despite what can only be described as a serious case of “Blatantly Obvious Placating Syndrome” during his final moments on the island.

“Ja look, you get to a point where you have to push incredibly hard to make it to the end. You go through such highs and lows and honestly, I was becoming so fearful… at the thought of having to decide who goes, who stays, who I take with me to the final… I couldn’t do it anymore. That’s why I say, I played a hard game, but it was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.”

He’s quick to clarify, however, that while his conversations with Sivu et al may have been misconstrued as blatant patronising, “I was genuinely trying to comfort and console him – because the plan had been to vote him off! – but lo and behold…”

On the subject of Sivu, Zavion affirms his closing sentiments on the show that the aspiring astrophysicist remains the most deserving winner: “Sivu has an incredible story. He’s struggled so much and I believe he, out of everyone, would make the most out of the money.”

Someone whom he would rather not see get their island-grubby paws on the million is Dave. “It’s nothing personal. I now know that he openly bad-mouthed me more than anyone else, who said really horrible things about me, so it will be interesting to see him at the finale,” explains Z. “But I’m not one to hold grudges, just like I forgave Altaaf when he phoned me to apologise for the remarks he’d made about my being gay. I don’t want Dave to win, because he doesn’t deserve to win. He’s been riding on everyone else’s coattails all the way…”

With Buhle coming in a close second in the coattail-riding stakes, albeit in a more understated manner (my words, not Zavion’s).

So what key factors will he take into consideration when he casts his all-important jury vote come crunch time?

“The main things I’ll look at is: did they play well? Were they part of any blindsides? Did they win any immunity challenges? And most importantly, how will it affect their lives afterwards?”

Well, based on that criteria, young Sivu is indeed perfectly positioned to take the title of Ultimate Survivor.

Survivor SA: Champions, Sunday on M-Net at 5.30pm.