An investigation into the newly-crowned Miss Wits Varsity Cup has been launched following accusations of cheating during the pageant.
Wits Vibe, the managers of the Miss Wits Varsity Cup competition, has confirmed that it is investigating the Facebook votes for Callie Shepherd, Miss Wits Varsity Cup 2014.
The Facebook voting was part of the social media category of the competition.
The winner was the contestant who received the most ‘likes’ on her photo album. Shepherd came in third in this category, contributing to her overall win as Miss Wits Varsity cup.
Lynette Sciolla, former Miss Wits Varsity Cup 2013 and the co-ordinator for the 2014 competition, said the investigation was launched on Thursday, March 20.
Shepherd was officially crowned during the UCT vs Wits rugby game
last Monday, March 17.
After a staggering increase in Shepherd’s Facebook likes over a 24-hour period, just two days before the crowning, accusations of cheating were posted to the competition’s official Facebook page.[pullquote]“I know I’d never ever do anything to rig the votes. I spoke to everyone that I knew, I spoke to my aunt to phone radio stations.”[/pullquote]
“It [the rumour] started when Callie’s votes shot up, she had about 300 votes and all the other girls had 800 to 900 votes,” said Sciolla. “Then Callie’s votes shot up to about 800 more [than her competitors]”.
Shepherd denied rigging her Facebook votes and said her late surge came after she began campaigning for votes at the urging of the contest’s organisers.
She said that while she had a large number of votes outside of South Africa, this was because of friends and supporters living abroad.
“I know I’d never ever do anything to rig the votes. I spoke to everyone that I knew, I spoke to my aunt to phone radio stations. I have a very close friend who just recently moved to Shanghai. I’ve got friends in Chicago, New Zealand, that explains some of the foreign accounts,” said Shepherd.
Shepherd said she didn’t have a problem with the investigation since she had not done anything wrong. She hopes to win over her detractors.
“I hope people would give me a chance because they don’t know me and once they get to know me they won’t have a problem with the fact that I won,” Shepherd said.
“I’m really disappointed that I did not get the support from people that I feel like I deserve.”
Sciolla said the social media component of the competition contributed to 35% of the overall points each contestant had.
The other points included interviews for 40%, photo shoots for 20% and voting for fellow contestants counted for 5%.
Sciollo said the controversy resulted in hostile comments directed at Shepherd on the Miss Wits Varsity Cup Facebook page, the worst of which have been deleted.
The investigation is still ongoing and a result will be reached soon. Sciollo said Shepherd would remain Miss Wits Varsity Cup unless hard evidence of cheating was discovered.
“If the winner does have a discrepancy with her votes then the first princess is the one who takes over [the title],” she said.
The Miss Wits Varsity Cup 2014 first princess was Nthabiseng Makgabo.
The competition received more than 80 applications which were narrowed down to five finalists, Shepherd, Makgabo, Nqobile Mahlambi, Lizar Madhomu and Jessica Tovey.
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