Vusi Mafulela. Picture: Supplied

After 22 days of twists and turns, the 10 castaways on M-Net’s Survivor South Africa: Philippines awoke to ‘Treemail’ announcing that they had made it to Merge in Thursday night’s episode. However for Vusi Mafulela, the game ended at this new dawn after a strong run in recent Immunity and Reward Challenges had put a huge target on his back.

“You’re all ‘bang scared’ of me,” muttered Vusi as he collected his things after picking up five votes at the first Individual Tribal Council of the season. 

“They were scared,” he reiterated as host Nico Panagio snuffed his torch to send him to Ponderosa Island to become the first member of the Jury, who will ultimately award the R1 Million prize and confer the title of ‘Sole Survivor’ on the castaway they deem most worthy.

We caught up with Vusi after his exit.

Why did you decide to enter the show?

It was a personal challenge. I love the outdoors and I love challenging myself and I wanted to do something that would challenge every aspect of my life, physically, mentally, emotionally and psychologically and Survivor was the perfect opportunity for that.

How did you prepare for Survivor South Africa: Philippines?

I swam a hell of a lot. Physically I did not need to do a lot in terms of strength but I needed get my swimming right so that’s what I focussed on.

What was your strategy going into the game?

I did not want to play the role of an alpha male and put a target on my back, that’s never a good idea. I wanted to be a listener and not a talker, for me information in a currency and I wanted to gather as much information as I possibly could.

What did you learn from this experience?

I learnt two things, don't sweat the small things and be grateful for everything you have. This experience is a humbling one, you learn to appreciate everything you have back home because on the island you have nothing.

You exit was a bit dramatic when you said that everyone was scared of you after the votes were read, why did you say that?

When I won previous challenges I could see the expressions on the others faces, they were not happy and started seeing me as a treat which is why they got rid of me as soon as they could.

Any regrets?

Not finding an immunity idol is my only regret. I did look but they are so hard to find.

Who is your money on to win the game?

Anybody who is playing the game honestly.