Zozibini Tunzi, of South Africa, is crowned Miss Universe by her predecessor, Catriona Gray of the Philippines, at the 2019 Miss Universe pageant at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. Photo: REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

Johannesburg - Newly-crowned Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi has thanked South Africans for the support shown to her over the past few months.

The 26 year-old from Tsolo, eSdwadweni in the Eastern Cape was named Miss Universe during a ceremony which took place at Tyler Perry Studios, Atlanta, Georgia, United States. 

Tunzi is the third South African to clinch the title, after Margaret Gardiner - who won it in 1978, and Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters' win in 2017.

Speaking following her win, the beauty queen said she was ecstatic following her win and thanked South Africans for their support from the beginning of her reign as Miss SA. 

"I'm so ecstatic, I think everyone is still waking up by the way. They are going to wake up to a storm of news.

"I don't think I've ever had as much support as I did coming into the Miss South Africa crown so I think this will be something extra and very special for everyone back at home. I just want to tell them that I love them very much and thank you for all the support they've shown me for the past four months and we're here to do this another 12 more months and it's going to be absolutely amazing."

Adding to this was Stephanie Weil, CEO of Miss South Africa organisation, who said: “We are delighted and not in the least surprised. She shone in every way during the pre-process in the run up to Miss Universe.

“Zozi has such a unique look, she was a front runner from the start. We are so very proud of her. She is beautiful both outside and in.”