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Thuli Madonsela, Suzette van der Merwe included in Miss SA 2022 judging panel

Professor Thuli Madonsela. Photo: SUPPLIED

Professor Thuli Madonsela. Photo: SUPPLIED

Published Aug 2, 2022


Straight into Women’s Month and the Miss SA pageant organisers have wasted no time in announcing this year’s panel of judges for the pageant.

The all-women judging line-up consists of some of the country’s most respected and influential personalities including former South African Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, reigning Miss Universe Harnaaz Sandhu of India, former Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi (2019), Miss World Rolene Strauss (2014) as well as award-winning investigative journalist Devi Sankaree Govender, businesswoman and Miss South Africa 1990 Suzette van der Merwe and actor and TV personality Thando Thabethe.

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Here are the judges speaking on the pageant and what they will be looking for in a winner:

Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela is a South African advocate and professor of law who has held a chair in social justice at Stellenbosch University since January 2018. Picture: Supplied

Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela revealed that she is looking for an inspirational leader who believes in the possibility of, and is playing her part to build a more just world. “I am looking for a virtuous woman who walks tall in her covenant blessings. A woman on an urgent mission. A woman who is not confined to one particular role, but demonstrates the capacity to live a life filled with purpose,” said Madonsela.

Madonsela’s number one piece of advice for finalists competing for the crown is accept yourself as you are while working to do better on things that matter. “You might find yourself feeling anxious, nervous, excited, content, frazzled or even burdened, but remember the challenges you are facing today don't define you. God clearly chose you to experience this journey for a reason,” said Madonsela.

Harnaaz Sandhu was crowned Miss Universe last December, taking the crown back to India for the first time in 20 years. Picture: Supplied

Miss Universe, Harnaaz Sandhu, revealed that she draws inspiration from her mother, who broke generations of patriarchy to become a successful gynaecologist. On finding the ideal Miss South Africa, Sandhu said: “South Africa has been a strong contender every year at Miss Universe and it’s my true honour to meet the beautiful young women who are competing for the crown this year.”

Sandhu said that she is looking forward to learning more about their personalities and seeing the ladies in person. “My only advice to them is to be authentic! Use every minute and moment to showcase your true self, not only to the judges but to the people you are working with, those who are working on the production, your fans and the global audience who is watching,” said Sandhu.

Zozibini Tunzi was the third Miss South Africa to be crowned Miss Universe in 2019. Picture: Supplied

Zozibini Tunzi, who will make her acting debut in The Woman King scheduled for release later this year, revealed that she will be looking for someone who has a unique voice and has a strong conviction in who they are and what they stand for. “Every single thing and stage you have gone through in your life has prepared you for this moment...You are there because you belong, so act like you belong, walk like you belong and speak like you belong,” said Tunzi.

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Rolene Strauss was the third South African to wear the Miss World crown. She is currently chairperson of the non-profit organisation The Strauss Foundation. Picture: Supplied

Rolene Strauss, who released her new book Rediscover Your Self Confidence, believes that Miss South Africa is a well-rounded, beautiful and balanced woman. Strauss revealed that as an experienced judge, her judging criteria mainly stays the same but gets more particular regarding certain criteria as she becomes older and gets a more objective view of what truly is important.

“Know your boundaries when it comes to handling criticism. Taking the right type of criticism to heart can truly help you grow and reach your full potential, but others can steal your joy and authenticity and turn you into someone you are not,” said Strauss.

Devi Sankaree Govender is an award-winning investigative television journalist who has spent the past 29 years in the media after starting out on radio before moving to print and television. Picture: Supplied

Devi Sankaree Govender, award-winning investigative television journalist, said that Miss South Africa is not just a beauty pageant where young women rely on their physical beauty to earn a crown, win fantastic prizes and gain some fame for a year.

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Govender believes that Miss South Africa is a powerful leadership opportunity designed to arm young women with a wide range of skills and strengthen their voices, so that even when their reigns are over, those same voices can be heard, loud and clear. “Be authentic. Walk like you. Talk like you. Nobody does YOU better than you!” Govender said.

After her reign as Miss South Africa in 1990, Suzette van der Merwe started a successful business career including a role managing Cell C’s women sponsorship properties which included a five-year headline sponsorship of Miss South Africa from 2014 to 2019. Picture: Supplied

Suzette van der Merwe, who will be judging Miss SA for a second time after she joined the Miss South Africa final selection panel that selected Jacqui Mofokeng as Miss South Africa in 1993, said that Miss South Africa contributes to nation-building and pride, especially when they excel internationally and hold the South African flag high.

She revealed that she will be looking for that unique spark and qualities that will not only inspire the hearts of the people of our nation, but a winner who will represent us on the world stage. “The ideal candidate has presence, is authentic, articulate and has a ‘servant attitude’. She is confident, hard-working and ambitious with a clear vision of the goals she wants to achieve and the legacy she wants to be remembered for,’’ said Van der Merwe.

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Thando Thabethe is an actress and radio personality. She is currently host of 94.7 Drive with Thando and has played leading lady in some of South Africa’s biggest television productions including Housekeepers, How To Ruin Christmas and Reyka. Picture: Supplied

Thando Thabethe, who is one of the judges that chose the Top 10 this year, revealed that she will be looking for a lady with a strong head on her shoulders and one who is aware of herself and her power and is ready to represent South Africa. “Have fun! This allows you to be your most authentic self, we see when the real you shows up, be you, because no one can do that better than you,” said Thabethe.

Miss South Africa 2022 will take home prizes and sponsorships worth more than R3 million. The Top 10 competing for the crown are: Anarzade Omar, Ayanda Thabethe, Itumeleng Parage, Keaoleboga Nkashe, Lebogang Mahlangu, Luvé Meyer, Luyanda Zuma, Ndavi Nokeri, Pearl Ntshehi and Tamsyn Jack.

The pageant will take place at Sun International’s flagship venue, the SunBet Arena at Time Square in Pretoria.

It promises to be a spectacular and entertainment-packed show, which will be broadcast live on Mzansi Magic (DStv Channel 161) and Mnet (DStv Channel 101) on Saturday, August 13 from 6.30pm and streamed for an international audience on the Miss South Africa app.