Thusi carved out a niche for herself in the competitive world of modelling after landing high-profile magazine covers like Elle, Cosmo and Grazia. Picture: Supplied

Marchelle Abrahams profiles four phenomenon females who have raised the bar and paved the way for others to follow.

First Lady Tshepo Motsepe-Ramaphosa

South Africa’s first lady has brains and beauty. Since her husband Cyril Ramaphosa took office as president, Motsepe-Ramaphosa was thrust into the spotlight. But it’s not her groomed appearance that had people talking, it’s her long list of achievements and her contribution to charitable causes.

The daughter of the late Chief Augustine Butana Chaane Motsepe, before now, she was known mostly as the sister of mining magnate and Mamelodi Sundowns owner billionaire Patrice Motsepe.

Her impressive resume includes accolades from far and wide...

A medical doctor by profession, Motsepe-Ramaphosa gained her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine & Bachelor of Surgery) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and went on to complete her Master of Public Health in Maternal Child Health and Aging at Harvard School of Public Health. 

Motsepe-Ramaphosa completed her Master of Public Health in Maternal Child Health and Aging at Harvard School of Public Health. Picture: Reuters/ANA


Actress Pearl Thusi

Born in Durban, Thusi got her first taste of fame while participating in beauty pageants during her early school days in kwaNdengezi.

The 29-year-old carved out a niche for herself in the competitive world of modelling after landing high-profile magazine covers like Elle, Cosmo and Grazia.

But it’s her international break-through role in Quantico that got her noticed by Hollywood’s elite.

An outspoken personality, Thusi is not one to shy away from her feminist beliefs. On making the cover of GQ’s Feb 2018 edition, she said: “Being a sex symbol is empowering and it gives you command of your space.

“Women want to be appealing, but contrary to popular belief that has very little to do with men. It’s really about self-worth and personal power.”

Thusi carved out a niche for herself in the competitive world of modelling after landing high-profile magazine covers like Elle, Cosmo and Grazia. Picture: Supplied


IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe

Liezl van der Merwe’s meteoric rise through the ranks of the IFP has seen her gain legions of young followers on social media. Those familiar with SA’s political landscape will know her as an MP that demands answers and vehemently debating the Sassa issue.

She was one of the youngest Members of Parliament when sworn in 2012 - back then the average age of an MP was 60+. Now she sees herself as one of the “oldies”.

Now age 37, she always had a passion for politics. “Politics has always been my passion, but I also know I’m a servant - I’m here to serve the nation,” she says.

Van der Merwe may look out of place in a black majority party, but her no holds barred attitude is winning over millennials and Gen Zs alike. She must be doing something right. She answers with an air of modesty: “I’ll be at the airport and a young person will approach me and say ‘it’s wonderful to finally meet you.’ and I’m always taken aback, thinking how do they know it’s me?

“I think people recognise me for my hard work, and I’m someone they can relate to. I’m always engaging with my followers on social media where I am open to suggestions.”

Liezl van der Merwe was one of the youngest Members of Parliament when sworn in 2012. Picture: Supplied


Publicist extraordinaire Farah Fortune

Also known as “the pitbull in heels”, Fortune is the owner of African Star Communications. She launched the celebrity PR business in 2008 with just R1 000 to her name.

“No one would give me money,” laughs the 38-year-old. “I spent R589 on the CC, and the leftovers I used for cheap business cards.”

Ten years later and her company manages some of the biggest names in the local celebrity industry. She was instrumental in making AKA one of SA’s biggest hip-hop artists and now lays claim to other big names as well.

Now a successful businesswoman, she’s keen to give back, and hosts a series of motivational workshops on female empowerment around the country. “Women are always expected to be the weaker sex. We don’t really get encouragement from each other and we don’t give ourselves enough credit. If we stick together, you will be amazed at how powerful we can be.”

Fortune is the owner of African Star Communications which she launched with just R1 000. Picture: Supplied