A local young man has clinched the title of Mr Deaf World at an international pageant held for deaf people in Nelspruit.

Phumelela ‘Purrah’ Mapukata was one of the many contestants who took part in the pageant hosted by the Mr and Miss Deaf World where he ended up clinching the title, surprising even himself.

From growing up on a farm in Idutywa, Eastern Cape to being crowned Mr Deaf World, Mapukata said he never expected to walk away with the title

“I never expected to win. My money was on either Ukraine or China but they ended up as Mr Deaf Europe and Mr Deaf Asia respectively,” he said.

The 24-year-old Mapukata - who now lives in Mitchell’s Plain, Cape Town- is the youngest of five children and the only one who is deaf. His family, however, understands basic sign language.

In 2017 Mapukata was crowned the Mr and Miss Deaf South Africa (MDSA) Public Choice Winner. 

He then represented MDSA alongside the MDSA Miss Deaf 2017-2018, Lethuwe Ntaka at the Mr and Miss Deaf World where they both got international recognition because Ntaka was crowned the first runner up in the Miss Deaf World category.

Mapukata said he was nervous before the pageant. 

“When they called my name, I was very shocked and was at loss for words. Since it all sunk in, I am happy and proud to hav achieved this honour,” he said. 

Mapukata said his greatest challenge in the competition was the language as each country has its own sign language. That also made it this made it hard for him to communicate with fellow contestants, he said. 

Mapukata and Lethuwe Ntaka at the pageant.

On the other other hand, Ntaka said she knew it was going to be hard for her to win as all contestants were special in their own way and deserved to win.  

“Although I knew I was well prepared and worked hard during the run-up to the competition, I knew it would be a hard battle because the contestants were so special and all deserved to be a winner," Ntaka said.

MDSA CEO Janice Jonker Davies said she was overwhelmed and proud "of our contestants who represented South Africa very well".

“They showed the whole world and their fellow contestants what lovely people they are. I feel very privileged to be part of it and to have witnessed the amazing gala evening. They were both stars on stage,” she added.

As part of his responsibilities as the title holder, Mapukata has to be a good ambassador to the deaf community, visit deaf schools and motivate pupils.

He will be expected in Thailand next year May to crown his new successor.

“I want to be a role model for the kids and be someone others can look up to during my reign as Mr Deaf World,”Mapukata said.

The Star