Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane made the top three at the 70th Miss Universe pageant which was held in Eilat, Israel this morning.
Mswane was crowned second runner-up with Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu taking the crown and Miss Paraguay Nadia Ferreira the first runner-up.
The show, which was screened live in South Africa on 1Magic (DStv channel 103), was hosted by comedian Steve Harvey.
In her final speech before the winner was announced, Mswane urged young women to “choose courage over comfort”.
“I would like young women to know that since the beginning of time they have had everything within them to achieve anything they wanted, it is the world that convinced that we do not,” she said.
After the pageant, the reigning Miss South Africa said she was “overwhelmed” to make it into the top three.
“I am overwhelmed to have made it into the top three of the competition. The whole experience has been beyond my wildest expectations. Congratulations to Harnaaz and Nadia and all the other contestants who made this journey so special,” Mswane said.
“I am deeply thankful to all the amazing people who have supported and uplifted me.”
Twenty-four-year-old Mswane – who comes from KwaSokhulu in Richards Bay – represented South Africa against contestants from 80 other countries in the competition.
Mswane was one of the front runners throughout the build-up to the finale, wowing the judges in the national costume competition on Friday where she wore a white outfit by the Costume Department with white feathers symbolising a Dove of Peace.
At the time of winning the Miss South Africa title in October, Mswane had graduated with a Bachelor of Law from the University of Pretoria. She is also a model and a dancer.
Miss South Africa’s participation at the Miss Universe pageant has divided South Africa – with many criticising her for participating in “apartheid Israel” while others saluted her.