By Lumka Oliphant and Sapa
It's been confirmed. Claire Ann Sabbagha, Miss South Africa's first princess, will represent South Africa at the Miss World contest in London next Saturday.
This follows rumours that Sabbagha would not qualify for the Miss World pageant because she turned 25 on November 8.
According to the rules on the Miss World entry form, participants may neither be younger than 17 nor older than 24 on December 31 of the year of the beauty pageant.
However, Vanessa Amadi, the Miss World 2002 press officer, said that the rules and regulations did not include a specific age limit.
"It also depends on the time she turned 25 and the age she was crowned (as first princess to) Miss South Africa," said Amadi, speaking from London.
"In this case she was 24 when she was crowned in her country."
Amadi cleared up the confusion regarding the pageant next Saturday, to which South Africa had sent two representatives, Sabbagha and Miss Junior Africa 2002 Karen Lourens.
"Claire Ann is representing South Africa," Amadi said.
Amadi said she was not sure how South Africa ended up with two representatives because "it had no representative from the beginning then somebody sent someone. We were stunned when suddenly there was somebody," Amadi said.
Amadi said Lourens was in London "shopping" and was not sure when she was coming back.
"She has only indicated that she was staying for a couple of days and will be going home to pray," she said.
It is said that when riots in Nigeria caused the pageant to be moved to London, Pageants SA struck a deal with Julia Morley, organiser of the Miss World pageant, for Lourens to represent South Africa.
But on Thursday, Sun International announced that it was indeed first princess Sabbagha who would participate in the contest.
Sun International originally had announced that it would not send Miss South Africa Vanessa Carreira to the pageant in Nigeria because of logistical problems.
Carreira later said that she would not have participated anyway on ethical grounds because she objected to the sentence of death, by stoning, imposed on a Nigerian woman for bearing a child out of wedlock.
Carreira's presence is required at the 2002 Miss South Africa pageant at Sun City next Sunday, and according to a media release by Sun International, she had decided that the local commitment was more important than the Miss World pageant.