Corona beast hobbles beauty queens Zozibini Tunzi and Sasha Lee Olivier

17 May 2020 - 00:00 By LEONIE WAGNER
Miss South Africa Sasha Lee Olivier at her Central Square apartment in Sandton still plans to raise R1.2m for rape comfort packs.
Miss South Africa Sasha Lee Olivier at her Central Square apartment in Sandton still plans to raise R1.2m for rape comfort packs.
Image: Sebabatso Mosamo

Sasha Lee Olivier’s reign as Miss SA should have made her one of the most recognisable faces in the country. But then the lockdown happened barely two months after she took over the sceptre from Zozibini Tunzi, who was crowned Miss Universe in December.

This week, at last, she got to dust off her sash and make her first public appearance in seven weeks, at an International Nurses Day celebration in Sebokeng, Gauteng. 

“I started off the year saying 2020 is the year of plenty. I was just getting into the swing of things when we were told we’re going into lockdown. Regardless of not being able to attend events, Miss SA is all about getting into communities,” said Olivier, 27.

Her first event as the official Miss SA was the Sun Met at the Kenilworth Racecourse in Cape Town in February. The following month she attended the opening of the Queer Wellness Clinic in Johannesburg — and then the events had to stop.

So too did her big project to raise R1.2m to supply rape comfort packs in schools and universities across the country.

The campaign #ItsNotYourFault, which she launched last year, is aimed at survivors of sexual abuse. Olivier has been open about the sexual abuse she experienced as a child and has made it her mission to help others.

“It was a matter of hitting the ground running but then [the campaign] had to stop,” she said.

There have been high volumes of gender-based violence, where people are exposed to their perpetrators, and we’re limited in what we can do
Miss SA Sasha Lee Olivier

“There have been high volumes of gender-based violence, where people are exposed to their perpetrators, and we’re limited in what we can do.” Olivier said it has been frustrating to not be able to fulfil all her responsibilities as Miss SA.

“Now most of my day is spent doing online talks. I always wake up at 5am. What’s been keeping me sane is maintaining my schedule. I exercise twice a day. I’ve also taken up Samba dancing again.

“Oh, and I recently started cooking again, and of course now we all bake. I can’t put my piping bag [for cake icing] down now that I’ve picked it up again.”

To connect with South Africans and the world, Olivier has taken to social media and hosted live discussions on Instagram so fans can interact with her.

The pandemic has also put Tunzi’s Miss Universe activities on ice — she was supposed to spend the year travelling, championing various causes, but has been in lockdown in her New York apartment.

The two keep regular contact. “It’s like two sisters chatting. It’s been great to have someone guide me through this,” Olivier said.

Tunzi, like Olivier, is using social media to reach out to fans, encouraging them to share videos (#UniverseUnited) about how they’re keeping entertained. She has also been hosting live discussions with previous titleholders about their philanthropic causes and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Olivier said hardships were also learning opportunities. “These things happen. Adversity breeds success. It’s not the first difficulty I’ve ever had to face.”


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