One University of Pretoria (UP) student and two UP graduates are among the 15 women in the running towards becoming Miss South Africa 2020. Fourth-year Law student Matsepo Sithole (21), UP Social Sciences graduate Shudufhadzo Musida (23), and UP MBChB graduate Dr Karishma Ramdev (25) have all made the final cut.
Sithole, who hails from Pietermaritzburg, said that entering Miss SA was the culmination of something her father had seen in her when she was just a baby: potential for greatness.
UP fourth-year Law student Matsepo Sithole (21). Image: Willem Botha
“When I was born, my father said I am Miss South Africa. I did not know about this until years later when I took an interest in modelling, photography, and of course, watching the Miss South Africa pageant every year. However, the pivotal point was in 2019. I started having this inner urge to enter the competition in 2020. It was a feeling I couldn’t ignore. So, I went for it,” she said.
While she is not a professional model, she’s had some practice after been crowned second princess at a Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High School pageant, as well as walking away with the title of Miss Tuks Village 2019 at the annual Tuks Village residence pageant.
Outside of pageantry, and her practise towards getting the perfect selfie, Sithole hopes, after completing her studies, to use her law degree to encourage the law to pay more attention to South Africa’s creative industries.
“I have always had an interest in the arts, and my stepfather is a musician. His struggles have enabled me to see the creative industry for what it really is, and not the facade it puts up. My main objective is to afford individuals the opportunity to play to their strengths within the creative industry. I feel the other mainstream careers have enough spokespersons. Who speaks for the creative industry? I will protect vulnerable groups and help promote fairness. Creatives often lack legal expertise, or the funds to acquire it. I will ensure creatives are aware of the protection the law provides them.”
Musida, from Limpopo, holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from UP and is currently pursuing an honours degree in International Relations at the University of the Witwatersrand.
UP Social Sciences graduate Shudufhadzo Musida (23). Image: Willem Botha
She said the degree she studied at UP was the beginning of a journey towards what she hopes will be a lifetime of empowering women and children. “It was challenging, but I felt like it better encompassed the fullness of the work I eventually want to do regarding the educational and economic empowerment of women and children, and in strategic studies. It allowed me to get a broader sense of how to help society on all fronts, including economically. It helped me understand the influences which could support my cause.”
Musida hopes to someday establish a foundation to alleviate period poverty and food insecurity, and also highlight mental health issues. “Those are some of the underlying problems which impede educational empowerment in disadvantaged areas, and ultimately hinder economic empowerment.”
Asked about her thoughts on pageants being seen as objectifying women, Musida conceded that while there was still some work to do, Miss SA had made important strides where representation is concerned. “I think the historical stereotypes associated with pageants have somewhat blinded or taken away from the great advances the organisation has made. It has been making improvements as far as representation matters and has indeed provided a platform where women can be empowered. A lot more can be achieved, but a lot is being done to debunk the ‘traditional’ notion of pageantry.”
Dr Ramdev graduated from UP in 2019 with an MBChB degree and is currently a medical intern in a Johannesburg hospital. She said the dream for her began when she saw Miss SA 2000, Joanne Strauss, on the cover of a magazine. She knew that was what she wanted to do someday.
UP MBChB graduate Dr Karishma Ramdev (25). Image: Willem Botha
Seeing the impact that holding the title of Miss SA could make encouraged her to merge her calling of being a doctor with her dream of becoming Miss SA in order to make a tangible difference. “I want to change lives. Being a doctor allows me to do that in little bits every day, but seeing the huge impact the Miss South Africa platform has made in this country makes me want to be part of it all. I’m coming into this competition knowing that I don’t know everything, but I am so ready to be teachable and to learn.”
* Voting for Miss SA is currently underway. Click here for details.