History of Miss South Africa

By Drum Digital
04 February 2014

The Miss SA beauty pageant has over the last 50 years introduced many fiercely intelligent and beautiful ambassadors for South Africa.

The Miss SA beauty pageant has over the last 50 years introduced many fiercely intelligent and beautiful ambassadors for South Africa, and three of these beautiful women attained the pinnacle of success by being crowned Miss World or Miss Universe.

Norma Vorster became the first official Miss South Africa in 1956.

Mavis Alexander was the first ever to be crowned Miss South Africa in 1925.

However, this wasn’t an official Miss SA title but merely a nationwide search for the country’s most beautiful woman. Since then the pageant has become an integral part of the South African landscape, attracting hundreds of bright and beautiful women from across the country, all vying for the coveted title.

Two years after its inception, Penny Coelen was crowned Miss SA in 1958 and she went on to become Miss World. In 1974 Anneline Kriel took over the title of Miss World and in 1978 Margaret Gardiner won the Miss Universe title.

In 1970, at the height of apartheid, Miss South Africa had two contenders; a white winner Miss South Africa (Jillian Jessup) and a black winner Miss Africa South (Pearl Jansen). They both competed at the Miss World, with Jessup being placed fourth runner-up and Jansen first runner-up.

Politics reared its head during that time and from 1978 to 1990 South Africa did not participate, but in 1991 South Africa was re-admitted and Diana Tilden Davis was crowned and went on to become second runner-up.

The first non-white winner in the history of the Miss South Africa pageant was Amy Kleinhans in 1992 with Jacqui Mofokeng the first black South African to win Miss South Africa in 1993.

The first Miss South Africa came about in 1956 when Die Landstem, a now defunct Afrikaans national newspaper, acquired the rights to send a delegate to London to compete in the Miss World pageant. In conjunction with Sunday Times, the first official Miss South Africa competition was organised to select an entrant  for London. It was Norma Vorster.

During the early years, Miss South Africa was sponsored by two national newspapers, Sunday Times and Rapport. Sun International came on board in 2000, as sole license holder. This year Cell C came abroad as headline sponsor for the first time.

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