By Aurelia Dyantyi

Durbanite Megan Coleman, who doesn't want people to see her simply as a pretty face because she is blonde, is the newly crowned Miss South Africa 2006.

The vivacious 21-year-old made a lasting impression and stood out among the other contenders at the glamorous event held at Sun City, North West, over the weekend.

This year's event attracted a large audience, with the organisers having gone all-out to bring the pageant back to its former glory. The Superbowl was filled to capacity, with the audience rooting for their favourite contestants in the joint Miss South Africa and Miss South Africa Teen pageant.

Coleman, a part-time model and wannabe advertising guru, clinched the main title while 17-year-old Zizo Beda of the Eastern Cape was crowned Miss South Africa Teen.

Considering the fact that South African beauty queens have not made waves recently in the international pageants, Miss World and Miss Universe, the judges were tasked with finding a candidate who would stand a good chance at the two events. Once the final five were announced and asked the make-or-break question, it was obvious that Coleman had no competition from her peers.

The outspoken Coleman sealed her victory with her short and witty answer. In typical beauty queen style, she is ready to save the world.

Addressing the media shortly after her win, Coleman, who will automatically be the face of Sun International's Aids hospice charity Tapologo, said she was ready to make a difference in her community and embrace her charity. The leggy blonde was adamant she didn't want to be seen as just another pretty face, but rather as a woman with a purpose.

"I'm highly opinionated, I've got lots to say. I hope people don't see me as a pretty face just because I'm blonde. My heart lies with Tapologo. During our visit there, it changed me and it was the last step that made me really want to do this," said Coleman.

Her life has already changed. Two weeks before joining other finalists, she was just an ordinary student who drove her old VW Golf to and from campus. Today she was due to drive home in a Land Rover Freelander and will pocket R50 000 in cash, among her many prizes.