I want to be the most 'real' Miss SA yet: Dr Adè van Heerden

25 February 2018 - 00:19 By NIVASHNI NAIR
Miss South Africa Dr Adè van Heerden says she has big dreams.
Miss South Africa Dr Adè van Heerden says she has big dreams.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Adè van Heerden often goes out in public without makeup. So far, so normal for a young South African woman - except that she is Miss South Africa, and the world of beauty queens is one of sequins, hype and glitz.

The effervescent brunette from Herolds Bay in the Western Cape is a medical doctor and lieutenant at 2 Military Hospital in Cape Town, and has often been photographed in her utilitarian hospital scrubs.

When her short eight-month reign ends - Van Heerden was promoted from first princess after Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters's elevation to Miss Universe - she says she wants the country to remember her as the "most real Miss South Africa", one who does not fit into the mould of the perfect, well-groomed and refined beauty queen.

"I make a point of it. If you see me on social media I appear without makeup. I appear sweaty in the gym. I want young women to look at me and say: 'I am like her and if she can achieve all these things by the age of 26, so can I.'"


She has lost count of the number of babies she has delivered.

"Medicine is a calling. I kept asking myself how I could improve the lives of those around me. Medicine allowed me that opportunity."

The first baby she delivered is named after her . "It was in Nelspruit in 2015. I was excited that it was the first baby that I had delivered. The mommy actually named the baby after me."

Her patients were excited when she was chosen as first princess in the Miss South Africa pageant, but winning the crown complicated Van Heerden's working life.

"It made it a little more tricky. A patient-doctor relationship is something very special and it took a little bit of harder work from my side to build up rapport and remind them that their secrets are still safe with me even though I am in the public eye.

"I had to make them understand Miss South Africa was a completely separate life."


Van Heerden, who never even owned a handbag before entering Miss South Africa, has had her fair share of wardrobe fails as the title holder.

Social media reacted harshly to an Ndebele-inspired national costume designed by Matome Seshoka of Antherline Designs, and the Miss South Africa organisers ordered changes to the design. Radio personality Anele Mdoda slammed the outfit, claiming it looked like an answer to the brief "if a Mahotella Queen had to be an Avenger".

At the Miss World pageant, Van Heerden had to borrow a gown from Miss India when her dress tore during the dress rehearsal.

She will swap her crown for scrubs in July but is vague on whether she will be practising medicine full time.

"I have big dreams. Medicine is definitely part of the dream. I am going back but not necessarily 100%. Let's just say I will be doing other things as well.

"As a medical doctor I am working with 50 patients a day and change 50 lives, but when you are on the Miss South Africa platform you have the ability to change thousands of lives."

WATCH | Quick Q&A with Miss SA



The number of years the Miss South Africa pageant has been running


The year Catherine Edwina Higgens was named the first Miss South Africa, according to the Miss South Africa website


The number of Miss World titles won by Miss SA winners. Two winners have been crowned Miss Universe