An investigation conducted by Wits Vibe has found that Miss Wits Varsity Cup 2014 winner Callie Shepherd did not cheat her way to earning the title.
Allegations were made that she had cheated during the social media portion of the pageant, as some of her Facebook likes appeared to be fake. The complaints were about her large number of foreign voters and their rapid increase just hours prior to the end of the competition.
Lynette Sciolla, former Miss Varsity 2013 and coordinator of the 2014 competition, said all the contestants got a last minute bump in their votes.
“After her [Callie] votes jumped all the other girls votes also jumped actually Literally all of them jumped, it was going to be quite unfair to only evaluate Callie.”
Sciolla said that the other contestant’s votes were investigated and they were found to also have foreign votes.
“[Another contestant] had people from England,” she added.
The competition did not specify where the votes should come from and so it was not limited to only South Africa or Wits.
When assessing the votes, the committee found that some of Shepherd’s voters were active Facebook users and others were not but could not use that assessment as concrete evidence that the beauty queen had cheated.
[pullquote align=”right”]“We need to make sure that we have a clear name and a girl who is going to represent Wits the best way possible” [/pullquote]
“We looked into everything, some people were active and others were not. Some people deactivated their accounts and activated them when someone needed help. So people were not active for at least four months and now all of a sudden they were active because a friend asked them to vote,” said Sciolla.
“We thought about creating a spreadsheet to actually show people every single vote and every single thing that counted because people needed so much clarity, but we felt that it would be unfair to show the people who got the least votes because it’s also quite personal and private,” Sciolla said.
“We did not want to cause more drama on top of drama,” she explained.
Sciolla said they had numerous conversations with Shepherd and asked her to be honest because she’s now competing in Miss Varsity Cup.
“We need to make sure that we have a clear name and a girl who is going to represent Wits the best way possible,” said Sciolla.
Shepherd felt allegations were unfair
Shepherd said even though she did nothing wrong and felt victimised, she understood that the investigation had to be done.
“I didn’t mind, I was confident that I did not do anything wrong but obviously I wasn’t happy about it. I felt like it was just unfair and I was being victimised for nothing, so I was quite grumpy about that but I understand,” said Shepherd.
Lizar Madhomu, one of the Miss Wits Varsity Cup finalists, said the accusations had been “saddening” and was glad Shepherd had been vindicated.
“If I’d put myself in her shoes I wouldn’t have liked it if people had made it such a big deal. She’s such a sweet person and the story did not show that. I’m happy the truth is out now.”
Shepherd is still close with the finalists and they are supporting her for the Miss Varsity Cup competition.
“I’m still close with them, we have good friendships and they support me so much with Miss Varsity Cup now that I’m doing that and they voted for me, they have been so nice about it,” she said.
Votes are still open for Miss Varsity Cup on Facebook. They are not the only deciding factor in the compeition but count for 40%, of the total score along with 40% for interviews, 15% for contestant votes and 5% for the photo shoot.
Shepherd will not be seeking for votes internationally because she does not want more drama. Instead she will go onto campus and get Witsies involved.
Wits Vuvuzela: Probe launched into rugby beauty, March 2014