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No word given by South African pageant on bullying allegations

───   TSHEHLA KOTELI 11:46 Mon, 12 Jun 2023

No word given by South African pageant on bullying allegations | News Article
Miss South Africa Organisation's CEO Stephanie Weil. PHOTO: Instagram

One of the biggest pageants in South Africa, which has been in existence since 1956, has reserved its comment on bullying allegations.

The 23-year-old finalist in the Miss SA pageant, Levern Donnatella José, has been accused of bullying young women during her school days. Janine Walker from Nine Squared Media, who handles media enquiries on behalf of Miss SA, has informed OFM News the organisation has no comment on the issue. “I have spoken to the CEO, Stephanie Weil. She and the Miss South Africa Organisation have no comment to make,” reads the reply.

The enquiry sent to Walker asked if there will be an investigation into the allegations made, seeing that the previous Miss SA titleholder, Shudufhadzo Musida, with the help of the organisation dedicated her time to victims of bullying. 

The alleged victim of José took it to social media to question how she [José] was selected to be in the top 12 while she is the opposite of what the pageant stands for. According to Miss SA’s website, the pageant prides itself “a leading voice on female empowerment and a launchpad for much-needed social change”. 

José’s alleged victim, in a chain of tweets, detailed the events of her encounters with José. She alleged that the bullying by José and her friends began in 2017. The victim said she and her friend reported the bullying at school but nothing was ever done. Since the Twitter user broke her silence about the alleged bullying, other girls have come forward alleging José has also bullied them.

Miss SA 2020, Musida released a book titled “Shudu finds her magic”, which is understood to be a children's book about bullying. The book was inspired by her experiences and the trauma that came with the bullying she went through during her younger days. She revealed that when she was nine years old she started a new school. She experienced being bullied by her schoolmates for at least seven years. Based on Musida’s work, another Tweet reads: “The Miss SA organisation needs to investigate these serious allegations and take necessary action, including qualifications. Many kids have committed suicide because of bullying. It will be ten steps back to the five forward steps Musida has taken to have a bully José as Miss SA. A bully is not a victim. Stop with the victim mentality.”

José has since been sent an enquiry for comment.

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