The Miss SA pageant has come into the spotlight following claims that it favoured the newly crowned queen, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters.
A storm seems to be gathering after Sowetan reported that some semi-finalists and finalists at this year’s competition claimed that the pageant was rigged in favour of the winner.
As a result, the Miss SA pageant had to speak up in its defence, labeling the accusations null and void.
According to the disgruntled contestants, Nel-Peters, who won the crown in March, allegedly received preferential treatment at the competition. It was also alleged that miss Nel-Peters had a long-standing personal relationship with two of the judges – former Miss SA winners Melinda Bam and Claudia Henkel.
Refuting the accusation, Claudia, who is also the pageant’s spokesperson, has labelled the accusations as false.
“There was no favouritism. Not from me. Not from any of the judges. We did not share our scores or even discuss any of the contestants and the results were independently audited,” she explained.
Claudia explained that as a publicist for the pageant, she had the pleasure of forming a relationship with some of the girls. Nevertheless, when she was made a judge in the competition, she kept her distance from them. Besides, she denied having a personal relationship with Nel-Peters outside the competition.
“I was a regional judge for the competition and met Demi-Leigh, along with all of the other contestants, at these regional competitions. As a publicist for the pageant I got close to all of the girls, but when I was called as a judge for the finals, I distanced myself from them,” she said.
Thus, Claudia said she was surprised to hear the reports, coupled with the fact that a platform was created during the competition for the girls to air their views and this never came up.
Claudia blamed it on “sour grapes” coming from those who lost in the race. Also, Nel-Peters denied she received any special treatment by sponsors.