Miss South Africa organizers label reports that Lalela Mswane has withdrawn from Miss Universe ‘unfounded and untrue’.
The Miss South Africa Organisation has labelled reports that reigning Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane has withdrawn from the 2021 Miss Universe competition as “completely unfounded and untrue”.
The 24-year-old from KwaZulu-Natal was crowned Miss South Africa 2021 on 16 October at Grand Arena, GrandWest in Cape Town.
This comes after Palestine solidarity organisation Africa4Palestine on Tuesday reported that Lalela would no longer participate in the upcoming Miss Universe competition, amid a growing call for countries to boycott the international pageant to be held in Israel later this year.
“Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, will represent South Africa at the Miss Universe competition, held this year in the picturesque Israeli resort town, Eilat, on 13th December,” the Miss South Africa Organisation told Channel24 on Tuesday.
Miss South Africa Organisation CEO, Stephanie Weil, said that she was aware of reports stating that Lalela had withdrawn, and labelled all statements “completely unfounded and untrue”.
She added that “her organisation was also thrilled to be able to make Lalela’s childhood dream – to wear the crown while representing her country globally – come true.
Lalela has spoken out openly about her being bullied as a child. She will not be bullied as an adult against fulfilling her ambition.”
“South Africa was placed very firmly in the 21st century when Zozibini Tunzi, proudly wearing her natural hair without trying to conceal it under a weave or a wig, was crowned Miss Universe. Her refusal to bow down to pressure to look a certain way was groundbreaking and opened the door to diversity and the rise of the individual as opposed to look-alikes. Like her, Lalela will be a role model to young women not just across the country but across the African continent.
“Anyone who wants to rob Lalela of her moment in the spotlight is unkind and short-sighted. She is the shining beacon for young women everywhere, showing them that being beautiful while being clever and educated is very possible,” the statement said further.
The organisation emphasised that they “are not a political organisation and the Miss Universe pageant is not a politically inspired event”.