Pretoria – The South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) on Monday congratulated Miss South Africa, Lalela Mswane, for bringing “pride and honour to our nation” by being crowned the second runner up at the 2021 Miss Universe pageant in Eilat, Israel.
“South African Friends of Israel congratulates and celebrates Lalela’s stunning achievement. She has raised the status and visibility of South Africa across the globe,” said South African Friends of Israel general manager Pamela Ngubane.
“We are bubbling with joy to witness how she had the courage and conviction to stand up as a proud South African on the world stage and against the anti-Israel bullies and hate mongers who tried to intimidate her for going to Israel, including the short-sightedness of the South African government.
Lalela 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 was hosted by comedian Steve Harvey.
“Lalela Mswane truly represents the millions of South Africans who are standing behind her and celebrating her achievements. As SAFI, we applaud Miss SA, and now Miss Universe second runner-up, for standing strong and resilient in the face of hate,” said Ngubane.
“Her inspirational words at the competition, “I would implore young women today to choose courage over comfort (in) every opportunity they get'', truly resonate and should be a message to all women in our beloved country in pursuit of their dreams. Her courage, tenacity, and determination are an example to all. She is a worthy princess, and we look forward to following her achievements as she continues her reign as Miss South Africa.”
SAFI said it is time for all those who are proudly South African to celebrate this remarkable achievement “and continue to build our nation and represent the best we have to offer to the world”.
“Halala, Lalela! Halala!”
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, 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.