Miss SA was ‘rigged’

Miss SA was ‘rigged’

Ade van Heerden, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters and Boipelo Mabe celebrate at the crowning of Miss South Africa 2017. Picture: Yolanda van der Stoep

Miss South Africa was rigged in favour of winner Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, the mom of another finalist said.

The crown was unfairly guaranteed to Nel-Peters, and “this reflects as pure and utter favouritism,” the woman said.

The pageant’s finalists called a meeting with event organisers a month before the winner was announced to lay allegations that the event was rigged.

“In that meeting they relayed their concerns and their fears,” the mom said.

A number of the contestants asked for the meeting after suspicions mounted of a plan to guarantee the election of Nel-Peters.

Claudia Henkel, the PR manager of Miss South Africa, confirmed the meeting happened but dismissed allegations of an improper election.

“The committee held this meeting in the presence of the main sponsors and the auditors. The committee addressed these matters in detail and the contestants confirmed that they were satisfied with the resolution,” she said.

The mother said her daughter and other participants smelled a rat when organisers, Sun International, allegedly included a stop at Nel-Peters’ charity event.

Participants had previously agreed to attend only Sun International events to avoid giving any individual an advantage.

In the final round of judging, the finalists were asked pointed questions about topics such as the meeting, the mother alleged.

“I really wished [the judges] stuck to their mandate. Wouldn’t it be nice if they stuck to asking her the ‘100 ways she’d like to change the world’ questions?”

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