Pretoria – The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) on Monday joined numerous South Africans congratulating Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, on being crowned second runner-up at the Miss Universe pageant held in Israel.
“We join fellow South Africans in celebrating this remarkable outcome. There was overwhelming excitement and support for her on social media, throughout each stage of the event,” said SAJBD spokesperson Charisse Zeifert.
Mswane made the top three at the 70th Miss Universe pageant which was held in Eilat, Israel, this morning.
She was crowned second runner-up, with Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu taking the crown and Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira the first runner-up.
The show, which was screened live in South Africa on 1Magic (DStv channel 103), was hosted by US comedian Steve Harvey.
Zeifert said Mswane’s perseverance and bravery were inspirational.
“In her final response, she urged young women to “choose courage over comfort at every opportunity they get”. Lalela has embodied this principle. She is a true ambassador of peace and a role-model for young women in our country and globally,” said Zeifert.
“We know that she will make a huge difference to the lives of ordinary South Africans, through her foundation and will continue to raise our profile on the international sphere.”
Meanwhile, Citizens for Integrity has called on Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa to apologise to Mswane after she made her mark at the global event, without government support.
“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.