Pretoria – Citizens for Integrity on Monday called on Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa to apologise to Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane after she made the top three at the 70th Miss Universe pageant which was held in Eilat, Israel, this morning, without government support.
Mswane was crowned second runner-up with Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu taking the crown and Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira the first runner-up.
“Mr Minister, Lalela’s reputation and standing are far more advanced now than they could even have been had the bullying and attempts to force her to withdraw from the Miss Universe Pageant being successful. You offered her nothing but threats in South Africa. You would have left her with nothing, except a lack of dignity,” said Mark Hyman and Willie Hofmeyr, directors for Citizens for Integrity.
“Your threats that it could prove disastrous to her future and public standing seem a little hollow. Will you greet her on her triumphant return to South Africa? The world is her oyster and millions of South Africans celebrate with her. As the Israelis say, ’mazal tov!’ As South African say ’siyakubongela’.”
Last month, on behalf of the South African government, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture announced the withdrawal of support for the Miss SA pageant after unsuccessful talks with the Miss SA pageant organisers.
The decision was harshly criticised by organisations, including the South African Jewish Board of Deputies which lambasted Mthethwa.
Lalela went against the strong winds back home, and made her mark at the prestigious event, which was screened live in South Africa on 1Magic (DStv channel 103), and hosted by US comedian Steve Harvey.
Citizens for Integrity said it would continue to fight Lalela’s constitutional rights which were “violated”.
“Mr Minister, it's still not too late for the government to apologise. But Citizens for Integrity will still be continuing the fight to vindicate all the constitutional rights that the government violated. Round two awaits,” said Hyman and Hofmeyr.
“You may have won the first round of the application that the case was not considered urgent by the court, and that’s all you won. When the court may have ruled that there was a lack of urgency, but your irrational decisions are showing through, and the violation of constitutional rights are becoming all too apparent.”
Citizens for Integrity said they were proud to celebrate with Miss South Africa, and saluted her courage in the face of extreme adversity.