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First openly transgender contestant Lehlogonolo Machaba misses out on Miss SA top 10 spot

03 August 2021 - 12:26 By kyle zeeman
Lehlogonolo Machaba is a transgender Miss SA finaliist.
Lehlogonolo Machaba is a transgender Miss SA finaliist.
Image: Supplied

Lehlogonolo Machaba made history as the first openly transgender Miss SA Top 30 finalist, but unfortunately did not make the pageant's top 10. 

The 10 finalists for this year's crown was announced on Wednesday, with a reveal on the pageant's official YouTube account.

They were selected by former Miss SA winners Bokang Montjane-Tshabalala, Liesl Laurie, Melinda Bam and Tamaryn Green, and by popular vote.

The winner will be crowned at a glitzy ceremony at Cape Town’s Grand West Arena on October 16.

Machaba, a 24-year old transgender woman from the North West, told the Sunday Times last month she wanted to represent her community and make a statement on one of the country's most prominent stages.

“Everything I do as a dark-skinned, transgender woman is a statement. My mere existence in society is threatening and there's a lot of closet transgender women who are afraid to come out in fear of receiving hate and, even worse, being killed.

“By doing this I am helping all those women to know that there's still hope and the world is changing for good, slowly but surely,” she said. 

The Miss SA competition has been open to transgender women since 2019. There is no requirement from Miss SA for women to disclose if they are transgender.

The crown will instead be contested by these 10 beauty queens, including pilot Cheneil Hartzenberg, doctor Moratwe Masima, former Miss SA top 5 finalist Kgothatso Dithebe and Olympian Chad le Clos' girlfriend Jeanni Mulder:

  • Moratwe Masima, 24, is from Atholl, Sandton, in Gauteng, and is a qualified medical doctor doing her first year of internship at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital. She is an aspiring plastic and reconstructive surgeon who would love to meet the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, as she is in awe of how she has handled the global pandemic and how she always puts the livelihood of her citizens first.
  • Cheneil Hartzenberg, 24, comes from Meredale, Johannesburg, in Gauteng, and is a commercial pilot and senior flight instructor in a managerial role at a flight school. She completed a digital marketing course with UCT online last year and is currently studying for her airline transport pilot licence.
  • Kgothatso Dithebe, 26, comes from Centurion, Pretoria, Gauteng. She is currently studying towards an LLB law degree and also runs her own company that deals with construction and the supply of goods and services. In her spare time, she goes to the gym, plays netball and loves trying out new recipes. She says her single biggest achievement was buying her first property this year.
  • Jeanni Mulder, 24, from Sea Point, Cape Town, is a full-time model and describes herself as compassionate, strong-willed and genuine. She is dating Olympian Chad le Clos. She credits her mom for being her role model who has taught her to fight hard, love deeply and never to be afraid of being passionate about what makes her happy. In her spare time, she loves to do anything artsy, watch TV and play Texas Holdem Poker.
  • Kaylan Matthews, 25, is from Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape and is in her final year of a Bachelors in Human Movement Science degree course at the Nelson Mandela University. She has a huge love for exercise and living a healthy, wholesome lifestyle and wants to use her degree to motivate people to accept themselves and learn to love their bodies and fall in love with exercise and all its benefits.
  • Bianca Bezuidenhout, 22, hails from Strand in Cape Town, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in marketing communications and is currently completing her honours in media studies. She is also a dance instructor as well as a business owner of her own swimwear company called She Succeeds.
  • Lalela Mswane, 24, is from KwaSokhulu, Richards Bay, in KwaZulu-Natal, is a model and dancer and has a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Pretoria. She describes herself as graceful, tenacious and meticulous and says she would love to meet the minister of employment and labour, Thulas Nxesi, to discuss ways of alleviating the growing unemployment problem.
  • Catherine Groenewald, 23, is from Constantia in Cape Town and is in her final year of a BCom visual communications degree, majoring in graphic design. She is also a barre fitness instructor and full-time model with Topco Models. During lockdown she started an online business called Delish Bakery.
  • Tiffany Francis, 22, who comes from Mulbarton, Johannesburg, is the owner of Tiffany K Models as well as a professional model and fashion design student. Her role models are her mom and late aunt, both of whom taught her the value of having resilience and empathy. Her ideal break would be a week in Italy with Frank Sinatra playlists, beaches and eating pizza for days on end and her guilty pleasure is cheesecake.
  • Zimi Mabunzi, 26, comes from Qonce (formerly King William’s Town) in the Eastern Cape and is a student at the Nelson Mandela University in her final year of a BCom Law degree. She won the popular vote. Mabunzi said she has a huge passion for music and would love to study it one day and make music of her own. In her spare time she loves to work out, sing and cook. Her favourite meal is umphokoqo and umngqusho.