No foul play was found in Miss Wits Varsity

Miss Wits Varsity Cup 2014, Callie Shepherd at her crowning last month with Miss Joburg 2013, Anushka Kapp

Miss Wits Varsity Cup 2014, Callie Shepherd at her crowning last month with Miss Joburg 2013, Anushka Kapp

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]

The investigation

“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.

RECENT STORIES

Wits Vuvuzela: Probe launched into rugby beauty, March 2014

Probe launched into rugby beauty

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

UNDER INVESTIGATION: Miss Wits Varsity Cup 2014, Callie Shepherd(left) smiles with Miss Joburg 2013 Anushka Kapp after her victory on Monday.

UNDER INVESTIGATION: Miss Wits Varsity Cup 2014, Callie Shepherd(left) smiles with Miss Joburg 2013 Anushka Kapp after her victory on Monday.
Photo: Luca Kotton

last Monday, March 17.

Facebook controversy

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’s response

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.

RELATED POSTS:

Wits Vuvuzela PHOTO: Varsity Cup Vixens March 7, 2014

Wits Vuvuzela RUGBY: Wits back in Varsity Shield  March 18, 2014