Miss South Africa pageant loses major sponsor

PHOTO: Getty Images
PHOTO: Getty Images

Johannesburg - March has come and nearly gone – so why has there been no Miss South Africa pageant yet?

According to competition insiders, the delay is because Cell C has withdrawn their sponsorship. Along with Sun International, the network service provider has been one of the pageant’s major sponsors since 2014.

Cell C confirmed the news in a statement to YOU.

"Our decision to withdraw as sponsor follows a review of our various sponsorship properties. Cell C as a brand has evolved and we are looking at new opportunities that are in line with our strategic focus as a business," they said.

"The value that it has provided to Cell C as brand has been outstanding," the company added. "It continues to be a platform for young women to realise their dreams and be positive role models for millions of South Africans."

Suzette van der Merwe, head of Cell C's social upliftment programmes – and a former Miss South Africa herself – says she is proud of what the company achieved during the four-year partnership.

"As a former Miss SA, I was part of the alumni, but I am no longer involved in the competition in my personal or professional capacity," she added.

In the past, a new Miss South Africa was crowned during an extravagant ceremony in March.

Last year the celebration was held in May because Miss SA was celebrating their 60-year anniversary and previous winners came from all over the world for the occasion.

But this year there has not yet been any mention of entries, let alone crowning Miss South Africa 2019.

When a worried fan inquired about this year's competition on the Miss South Africa Facebook page, the organisers replied: "2019 entries are not yet open, any developments will be shared on social media once confirmed."

It’s not yet clear how Cell C’s withdrawal is the reason for the delay, nor how it affects the pageant’s other major sponsor, Sun International.

Claudia Henkel, also a former Miss SA, resigned as Sun International's publicity manager at the beginning of the year to spend more time with her family.

"I was involved in the Sun International group for four and a half years," she said.

"I realised my twins were 14 months old and the time had flown so fast. So my husband and I decided that I would start my own business so that I could spend more time with the children."

"It was a personal decision and has nothing to do with the sponsorships," she added.

Claudia does not want to reveal too much about her new venture, other than that she’ll be launching it soon.

She does hope to return to Miss SA in some capacity, she added.

"Not only as a former winner, but when a new sponsor has been announced, I would like to be involved again," she says.

YOU approached Sun International for comment but has not yet received a response.