Ntandoyenkosi Kunene, an education honours graduand is the new Miss South Africa. (more…)
Ntandoyenkosi Kunene, a Wits education honours graduand, is a top 12 finalist in Miss SA and will be competing on Saturday at Carnival City for the title
Wits’ own Ntandoyenkosi Kunene may have missed out on a placing in the Miss Earth South Africa last month, but she has achieved success in a pageant closer to home.
Kunene was crowned Miss Mamelodi Sundowns Gauteng on Saturday, and walked away with R70 000. The third year education student went for her first audition last Thursday, which took place at the Southern Sun Pretoria.
“It was a long day but also very exciting,” said Kunene. “We were told that the ladies that make it through will be contacted between 7 and 8pm on Friday. 7pm passed and 8pm passed … I only got the call at 9.30pm, which I was ecstatic about.”
“What they were looking for, exactly, on the day, I’m not sure. But whatever it is I’m honoured to say they found that in me.”
Kunene will now participate in the national competition, in which judges will choose the overall winner. The national Miss Mamelodi Sundowns will receive R200 000 and a Honda CRZ.
Kunene, however, is happy with her R70 000. “Wow what do I do with R70 000? That is a lot of money for me. I will firstly spoil my parents and siblings just to thank them for the endless support they have been showing me, [I will be] saving some and giving some money to a charity in my home town. And not forget myself!”
Of her Miss Earth experience, Kunene said she was disappointed not to have been placed. “With things like this, I believe that it is written in the stars who wins and on that day. My name was not amongst those stars.”
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Ntandoyenkosi Kunene entered the pageant when she heard about it from a friend. “And the weird thing is they were already closed for applications but we went to the casting anyway,” she said.
Kunene was selected for the next round and eventually became a finalist for Gauteng.
“When I saw the email that read ‘CONGRATULATIONS’, I didn’t even continue to read anything else – I gave the phone to my sister while running into my parents’ bedroom screaming,” said Kunene. “The noise woke up everyone else and we just danced around screaming. It was such a great moment.”
According to their website, Miss Earth South Africa aims to “empower young South African women with the knowledge and platform to create a sustainable difference in our plight to combat the destruction of our natural heritage.”
The event helps create awareness of our environment, wildlife and conservation in South Africa.
Although Kunene describes environmental issues as very close to her heart, she says knowing the facts is not essential for entry into the competition. “But you must be willing to learn. And you fall in love with the change you want to make.”
The Miss Earth contestants were expected to get involved in various charity and community projects while competing for the title. Kunene was involved in a variety of projects, including teaching Katlehong and Tembisa children about planting beans.
“It’s quite inspiring. Even though we can’t change the current situation that we’re in, we can influence how they [the children] see the future,” Kunene said.
“It’s life-changing for those kids. With Miss Earth we strive to do that. We strive to change lives, to empower. And we also strive to give awareness to the environmental problems that we are facing as a country.”
According to Kunene, it is the way she tackles challenges that sets her apart from the other finalists. “I’m not your every day ‘what you see is what you get’ [kind of girl] because in most cases after meeting people, [they] always say: ‘I wasn’t expecting that from you’.”
If Kunene wins the title, she wants to get involved in environmental projects in her home town of Piet Retief in Mpumalanga. She has already organised a tree-plating campaign in the town.
“I want to work with rural schools, to plant gardens, to plant trees. We want to give hope. If I could win Miss Earth, that would be my major priority.”
The final gala evening will be held at Montecasino on August 25.