Candice Abrahams

Candice Abrahams

Was your Ancestor a Beauty Queen? As we celebrate the Mrs World Contest we congratulate Candice Abrahams a South African who  has been crowned Mrs World at the 27th Mrs World Pageant held on 12th March 2016 at Dongguan, in China, we also look back at the winners of the Miss South Africa and  the South African winners of the Miss Universe contest as well.  Many beauty contests have been held in South Africa since 1910. The most important being those in which the winners are entered in overseas contests.

The first Beauty Queen contests

In 1910, a beauty pageant was held in Cape Town to celebrate the newly formed Union of South Africa. Each province sent a representative that was picked by a prominent man in her region.

The first national beauty contest was organised by the magazine Stage Cinema in 1918. Three women were chosen to star in films based on Rider Haggard’s books.

Edna JOYCE was chosen to play the Queen of Sheba in King Solomon’s Mines. Mabel MAY and Elise HAMILTON were chosen to play twin sisters in Allan Quartermain.

Many contests held after World War I were mainly fund-raising efforts, often for the Governor-General’s fund.

In 1925 Mavis ALEXANDER won the Cape Argus Queen of the Gala competition.

The first woman to carry the Miss South Africa title, unofficially, was Winnie COMYNS of Cape Town, who won a national contest organised by the South African Lady’s Pictorial in 1926. Blanca Borckenhagen was Queen of the Orange Free State; Ethel Jagger, Queen of the Cape, Glyn Hathorn, Queen of Natal, and Blanca van der Hoven, Queen of the Transvaal.

In 1927, the Cape Town city council banned beauty contest as they felt that they are undignified and not for the good of the city.

In 1930 Molly LAMONT, a dancing teacher from Scottburgh, won the Outspan Film Candidate competition. Her prize was a holiday in England and a film test at Elstree Studios. She went on to act in more than 50 films in England and the USA.

In 1938, the Sunday Express held a Marlene Dietrich look-alike national contest, which was won by Thelma Fairlie of Kensington, Johannesburg. In 1963, Thelma met Marlene Dietrich during her visit to South Africa.

During the late 1930s and early 1940s, there were many Wool Queen contests across the country. Local winners went on to regional and provincial contests, from which one girl would become the overall winner. However, the final stage was never reached. Doreen O’Neill was Midlands Wool Queen in 1939, but only four more regional queens were chosen and when World War II broke out, the contest was abandoned.

After the war, the Wool Board partnered with Photo News magazine and Metro Goldwyn Meyer Films to create a national Meet the Stars contest. The winner was to be known as Miss South Africa 1948. Forty-nine finalists spent a week in Johannesburg. General SMUTS, then Prime Minister, crowned Avelyn MACASKILL of Bloemfontein as winner at the Johannesburg City Hall. Her prize included a trip to Hollywood as the guest of MGM, visits to New York, Holland, London, Paris and Canada, and a diamond ring.

A few days before Avelyn’s crowning, Stage & Cinema ran a readers’ contest which gave the winner an entry in Universal International’s Hollywood Beauty Contest. June FULTON of Durban won. Her prize included a six-month film contract and being photographed with film stars.

In 1944 Avelyn MaCASKILL won a beauty pageant. In 1949, Wynona CHEYNEY won a beauty pageant and reigned from 1949 to 1951.

Before the 1950s, most of the larger contests were organised by magazines such as Stage & Cinema, South Africa Pictorial and Outspan, or by newspapers, often in partnership with African Consolidated Theatres. Women submitted a photo and from these photos finalists would be chosen and published. The readers would vote for their favourite.

Beauty contests were racially segregated until the late 1970s. In the 1950s, Drum magazine, aimed at black readers, started running model and beauty contests. Later on a Miss Black South Africa pageant was held. Other popular contests were organised by the Ellerine’s furniture chain, and football associations.

In 1952, Outspan magazine and African Consolidated Theatres started a contest to find an entrant for the first Miss Universe pageant that year. Catherine HIGGINS, a short-hand typist from Johannesburg, wanted to become an actress. She entered the contest and won, taking her to Long Beach, California, where she was placed 7th and voted by the other contestants as Miss Friendly Spirit.

In 1956, Piet BEUKES, editor of Die Landstem, obtained the right to send a South African representative to the Miss World pageant in London. In 1960, the Miss Universe pageant in Miami Beach, Florida, and the Miss International Beauty pageant in Long Beach, California, also gave Die Landstem the right to enter a South African representative. Die Landstem, in partnership with the Sunday Times, arranged the contests for the Miss World entrant. The Sunday Express was in the partnership to choose the entrant for Miss Universe.

Beauty competitions were held in Margate where Miss Hibiscus was chosen and entered in the Miss Universe pageant. The Miss Hibiscus organisers re-named their title to Miss Protea in 1968.

The first official Miss South Africa contest was held in 1956. This was after the Afrikaans newspaper, Die Landstem, acquired the rights to enter someone in the Miss World pageant in London. Together with the Sunday Times, a South African English newspaper, they organised the first official Miss South Africa contest. It wasn’t a pageant yet as entrants only sent in their photos and the newspaper readers voted for their favourites. The finalists’ photos were again published and readers selected Miss South Africa. There was no crowning ceremony.

In 1964 and 1965, the selection system changed. The finalists and the winner were selected by the newspapers’ editorial staff. In 1966 and 1967 the finalists were still selected by the newspapers, but the winners were selected by the readers.

In 1968, Die Landstem closed down and the Sunday Times took over the contest, bringing in another Afrikaans newspaper, Dagbreek. The selection process in 1968 still saw the finalists selected from photos but the winner was selected by a panel of celebrity judges meeting in Johannesburg.

The selection process changed again in 1970. Regional pageants were held and the regional winners appeared before celebrity judges in Johannesburg. The winner and runner-up were announced at a cocktail party in Johannesburg, after being announced in the newspapers. In 1972, the Miss South Africa contest became a pageant and Stephanie REINECKE was crowned in front of a live audience in the Johannesburg City Hall.

Regional pageants were not held in 1975. The finalists were selected after nationwide auditions. This system remained in place until 1994.

In 1978, the Miss South Africa pageant was opened to all races.

In 1994, Doreen MORRIS, a former M-Net presenter, went into partnership with Sun International to run the Miss South Africa pageant, after Rapport and the Sunday Times withdrew due to political interference from the ANC’s Youth League. Sun International took full ownership of the pageant in 2000.

In the spotlight

Beauty pageants, especially Miss South Africa, crown came with many opportunities and most of the winners made good use of them. After their reigns, many beauty queens launched busy careers, while others found domestic life pleasing. Here we take a look at what happened to some of them.


In October 1925, a Cape Town newspaper, the Argus, sponsored a beauty contest. Close to 800 contestants entered by sending in their photos which went on public display. On the 14 November the winner was crowned in the Tivoli Theatre in Cape Town.

Mavis ALEXANDER, a school teacher from Montagu won. Her prizes included a cheque for 25 guineas, theatre seats, a camera, a hat, a dress, silk stockings, shoes, an umbrella, lunch for six people for a week, a perm, a one-seater sofa, a watch, dance lessons, and a photo frame for her winning photo. She was also driven around Cape Town in the car which the Prince of Wales had used in Cape Town shortly before the contest.

Mavis later moved to the Strand, where her mother lived. She went back to teaching and spent 26 years teaching at Somerset West Primary. After her mother’s death in 1950, she married a life-long friend, Bertie MITTEN. A few years later Bertie passed away. Mavis became involved in charity work and the Methodist church in Strand. In her will she left money to the Rotary Club. In 1994, the Rotary Anns of the Strand, erected a clock in Beach Road in her memory. A bronze plate has the following inscription: “Tyd vir vrede, time for peace, Ixesha Ngo Xola”. A gift to the community from Strand Rotary Anns. In memory of Mavis Mitton. 1994


After her reign, Avelyn went to London where she attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for two years. When she returned to Bloemfontein, she married businessman Jannie WESSELS and they had three children. After Jannie’s death, she married Ronnie VAN REENEN. They moved to Cape Town in 1983, where they were involved with the CAPAB Opera Chorus and the Philharmonic Choir. In 1994, they bought an apartment in Spain ‘s Costa del Sol, and divide their time between Cape Town and Spain. Avelyn enjoys working in her gardens and painting in oils.


Winifred (Winnie) Nora Mary Florence COMYNS married Egmar WESEMANN, but was divorced in 1951.


After returning from her prize trip to California, June met Antony BURTON from London. They got married and had two daughters. The family lived in Portugal for 11 years, where June ran a modelling school. They moved to England, where June died of cancer in 1990. June had acting roles in The Gal Who Took the West (1949) as a dance hall girl, and in Yes Sir That’s My Baby (1949) as Mrs. Koslowski.

Catherine Edwina HIGGINS

Catherine became a successful model in South Africa. She was known for her diamond smile, as she had a diamond embedded in one of her front teeth. She was the daughter of James Arthur HIGGINS and Christopholina Edina VAN RENSBURG (MHG reference 10845/71, her father’s death notice). She had an aunt and uncle, Mr and Mrs F.C. TOWNSEND who lived at 86 Moore Street, East London, in 1952. This was her mother’s sister. Catherine’s uncle on her mother’s side, Freddie VAN RENSBURG, was a national professional snooker and billiards champion. He passed away in 1997 at the age of 88.

Ingrid MILLS

Now Ingrid DE HAAST, she is a successful glass artist in Somerset West, after starting out as a potter more than 20 years ago. She attended classes in Corning, USA, as well as in Oregon. The former Miss South Africa 1953 also had a role in a Hollywood film. Ingrid was crowned in Johannesburg in May 1953. Her runner-up was Una DE BEER (Miss East London). Ingrid was Miss Salisbury, and was born in East London.

Penny Coelen

Penny Coelen

Penny Anne COELEN

Penelope Anne was born in 1939, in Durban. When she won Miss World in 1958, it was the eight Miss World pageant and had 22 contestants. Penny was an 18-year-old secretary. After her reign, she tried acting in Hollywood with James GARNER’s help, but failed her screen test. After returning to South Africa, she married her first love, Michael REY, whom she met when she was 16. Michael was a sugar-cane farmer at Umhlali, outside Durban.

They had five sons – Michael, Jean-Paul, Dominic, Nicholas and Christopher. Penny ran a beauty salon and gave lectures. She used to do promotional work, marketing and sales for American Airlines. In 1991, the ATKV awarded her a Vrou vir Vroue award for her involvement in charity and environmental work. Penny has her own clothing range, and endorsed beauty products. Her hobbies include gardening, painting, and learning languages.

Anneline Kriel

Anneline Kriel

Anneline KRIEL

In November 1974, Helen Morgan, Miss UK, was crowned Miss World. Four days later, it was discovered that she was an unmarried mother and the title was passed on to the runner-up, Anneline KRIEL (19). She was born in Witbank on 28 July 1955 to Johannes (Hannes) and Marie. Her father passed away in Pretoria in November 1997. Anneline’s siblings are Renette and Ernst. Renette was married to Graham McKENZIE, an Australian cricketer.

Anneline was Joolkoningin at Tukkies. She was Miss Northern Transvaal when she won Miss South Africa. After her Miss World reign, she appeared in films (she studied drama at the University of Pretoria), including Someone Like You (1978), alongside Hans STRYDOM; Kill and Kill Again (1981), alongside James RYAN, Bill FLYNN and Ken GAMPU; and Reason to Die, alongside Arnold VOSLOO. She also had a role in the TV series, Ballade van ‘n Enkeling. In 1986 she acted in the play, The Marriage Go Round.

In 1976, a scandal erupted when her naked pictures appeared in the Sunday Times. Ray HILLIGEN, a bodybuilder, had taken them while Anneline was sunbathing next to his pool.

Anneline also tried her hand at singing, releasing a record, “He took off my romeos”, in 1981. At the age of 39, she posed for Playboy magazine, draped in the new South African flag.

When she won Miss World she was dating fellow student Jacques MALAN but the relationship did not stand the strain. A relationship with Richard LORING, the singer, followed. He recorded a song for her, called Sweet Anneline. Another short relationship followed with the wealthy Italian baron and industrialist, Rudolf PARISI. In 1979 she dated Henk PISTORIUS of Johannesburg for a while. Anneline married three times – first to Sol KERZNER, hotel magnate, in 1980 in the Randburg magistrate’s office (they divorced in 1985). On 10 October 1989 she married Philip TUCKER, a show jumper, but they divorced in 1993. They had two children, Tayla and Whitney. On 29 March 1996, she married current husband, Peter BACON (Sun International executive). They live in Cape Town where she is involved with charities such as Child Welfare and the Cancer and Heart Foundations. Her business interests include marketing her clothing range her beauty products and perfumes.


Margaret, born in Woodstock, was 15 when she was discovered as a model by the then Rapport photographer Bernard JORDAAN. In 1978 she was crowned as Miss RSA. Later that year she won the Miss Universe pageant in Acapulco, Mexico, becoming the first African winner, and the only South African winner to date. Her mother, Dawn, lives in Table View. Her father passed away in 2000. Her sister, Sandy BRONKHORST, lives in Klerksdorp. Sandy was a finalist in the 1976 Miss South Africa pageant.

Margaret married André NEL, son of Kay, in Cape Town on 14 February 1987 at St. George’s Cathedral. He is a medical researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles, where the couple have lived since 1989.

Margaret has faced some serious health issues. She had TB as a child. In 1993 she was close to death after suffering an ectopic pregnancy. In January 1995 she gave birth to Brandon. He was christened at St. George’s Cathedral in 1996. Margaret had breast cancer in 1998.

She has a degree in psychology from Charleston College in South Carolina. In the early 1990s she took small roles in a TV series, a film and in theatre plays. In 1994 she published a book for aspiring beauty queens, “Die wenpad vir modelle en skoonheidskoninginne”, published by Human & Rousseau.

She is now a freelance journalist and TV reporter, and a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Margaret often reports for the SABC show, Top Billing. Her articles regularly appear in the You, Huisgenoot and TVPlus magazines.


Later changed her surname to FOSTER and went on to make TV documentaries.


Mitsianna (Mitzi) died in a car accident while driving her sports car in Victory Park, Johannesburg, on 18 June 1973. She was married to David Johannes FOURIE at the time (her death notice: MHG 6664/73).

Denise MUIR

She died at her home in Sandton in 1992.


Monica became a radio presenter in Durban.


Her father served in the South African Air Force. Her parents retired to Hermanus where they had a restaurant.


She married Bobby VERWEY, the pro golfer.

Ellen Peters

Ellen Peters


She was Miss Africa South 1973 and placed in the final 15. In 1976, she entered Miss RSA and came second. Afterwards she went to live in Greece and met Israeli-born Naaman SKOLNIK, a businessman. She converted to Judaism and was married in Israel. They live in Hertzelia Pituach, where Ellen is an Orthodox Jew.


It’s not everyone that hits the headlines thirty years after their moment of glory, but in the case of former Miss South Africa, Kazeka Somhlahlo (nee Ntantala) this is exactly what happened.

BARBARA HOLLANDS recently caught up with her. Kazeka, of Idutywa then but now living in Amalinda, won the Miss South Africa 1970 pageant in Umtata, which was under the auspices of the South African Non-White Cultural Syndicate. Tandiswa BAM of Umtata was second. Kazeka’s prize included cosmetics from Elida Gibbs, a bedroom suite, a radio display cabinet and clothing vouchers. The main prize of a trip to the USA was cancelled because the organisers ran out of money. She was a teacher in Idutywa. She endorsed Karoo Cream in magazines. In 1972 she was in a car crash near Willowvale, which left her with facial scars. Kazeka ended up marrying the social worker who was driving that night and they had two children. After marriage she taught in Alice and later worked for an insurance company before joining Zingisa Educational Project where she is still a regional co-ordinator.


Ellen was until recently the wife of Jannie Engelbrecht , former Springbok rugby player and owner of Rust en Vrede. She was Miss Matieland 1962. In 1963 she got engaged to Jannie in Sea Point and they went on to have three children – Jean, Angeline and Judy (married to GRAAFF). They met during her student days at the University of Stellenbosch. Ellen left her studies in 1963 shortly before her wedding, to represent South Africa at the Miss Universe pageant in Miami. Ellen was Miss South West Africa, which made her an automatic finalist in the Miss South Africa contest. The Engelbrecht family was broken up recently when Jannie divorced Ellen, and a court case followed which involved the farm Rust en Vrede.


Vera married the All Black rugby player, Alan SUTHERLAND. They have a horse stud farm, Somerset, near Mooi River. She has a rose named after her.


She was a qualified pharmacist when she won the crown. She married the Greek businessman, Ari TAPANLIS, owner of a toy company. In 1995 Wilma’s first child passed away two days after being born.


She married Walter WARD, a doctor, and had a stormy marriage.


Karin married show jumper Errol WUCHERPFENNIG.


Odette was also placed 12th in the Miss Universe finalists. She married Willie JOUBERT and they owned a nature reserve near Warmbaths for a while. Her sister, Olivia, was runner-up in Miss South Africa 1990.


Leanne married an Australian cricketer, Mike HAYSMAN.

Letitia SNYMAN

She converted to Judaism in 1991 before marrying businessman Geoffrey RUBENSTEIN.


She owns a modelling agency in Edenvale. She is the only Miss South Africa to represent another country in the Miss World contest. In 1989, she won the Miss Germany contest as she was of German origin and still had a German passport. In 2002 she was engaged to the Springbok rugby player, James DALTON. That same year, a rose was named after her at the Bloemfontein Rose Show.


She married businessman Richard BARKHUIZEN and lived in Knysna.


Born on 02 December 1966. Was Miss South Africa in 1988. She has a son and lives in Johannesburg.


Her grandmother was Thelma Fairlie, who was also a beauty queen. Older sister Janine BOTBYL won Miss South Africa 1988, and her sister Leanne was a finalist in 1982. Diana had a role in the horror film Howling IV and the action adventure Captive Rage. While doing a documentary in the Okavango, Diana met Chris Kruger. They were married at the Momba camp. They live in Maun in their safari business.

Michelle BRUCE

She has a son and lives in Cape Town. Some of her business ventures included edible underwear and marketing condoms. She was Miss South Africa in 1989


She was married to Greg VOGT, but later divorced.


Amy was crowned Miss South Africa in 1992. Amy married a New Zealander, businessman Leighton CURD. The couple have a son, Thomas. She is involved in educational ventures.


Jacqui was the first black woman to win Miss South Africa. She was nominated by the ANC in the elections but she declined. In 1994 Jacqui appeared in the film, A White Man in Africa, in the role of Hazel, an illiterate rural woman who has a relationship with an Australian diplomat. Today she is involved with human resources and production companies, and serves on the boards of several companies.


Basetsane was a popular beauty queen. She was born and bred in Soweto. After her reign she became a TV presenter. She went on to become a shareholder in Tswelopele, the company that produces Top Billing. She has two older sisters, Lerato and Johanna, and a younger brother, Abbey. Her parents are Philip and Beatrice. She is married to Radio Metro station manager Romeo Khumalo and has a son, Nkosinathi.


Peggy Sue (21) was Miss South Africa 1996. Five days after her crowning, it was discovered that she was Peggy Priscilla Erasmus (24) and had changed her name first to Peggy Priscilla Khumalo and subsequently to Nonhlanhla Peggy-Sue Khumalo, as was published in the Government Gazette on 04 April 1996. She was born in Newcastle on 07 December 1972 to Jumaima Khumalo and James Erasmus, a coloured or white farmworker. She was raised by her white grandmother, Afrikaans-speaking Cornelia Susanna Dunn. She attended Chelmsford, a coloured school in Newcastle, and matriculated from Haythorne High School in Pietermaritzburg. Peggy caused a public outcry when she said that she would slaughter a goat and several cows if she won Miss Universe or Miss World. After establishing her own PR company, she went to study further in the UK, where she is a fund manager for Investec.

Kerishnie NAICKER

Kerishnie had an honours degree and planned to open her own pharmacy. She was the first Indian woman to wear the crown. She grew up in Reservoir Hills, Durban, with her parents Amra and Joey, and two siblings. After obtaining a first class Matric, Kerishnie enrolled for a Bachelor’s Degree in Pharmacy, and later a Masters in Pharmacy. During her final year, her father passed away from a heart attack. He was a self-employed businessman and Kerishnie got involved in the family’s business interests. In 1997, whilst practicing as a pharmacist, Kerishnie entered the Miss South Africa pageant and won. She participated in both Miss Universe and Miss World. Kerishnie is involved in many business ventures, health research, is a television presenter, producer, master of ceremonies and public speaker. She helped secure funding for the building of 12 community health clinics, and played a key role in getting the Chatsworth Youth Centre up. She is also director of her own company, KJN and Associates, a consultancy facilitating corporate social investment projects.


Now a TV presenter, businesswoman and speaker, Jo-Ann was 19 when she won Miss South Africa in 2000. She started presenting the magazine programme Pasella in the same year, and joined Top Billing in June 2005. She speaks English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. Jo-Ann was head-girl at Hottentots Holland High School in 1998. She graduated from Stellenbosch University with a B. Comm (Law) degree. In July 2002, Jo-Ann participated in the Celebrity Big Brother reality TV show to raise R2 000 000 for five children’s charities. She finished in second place. She has her own communications company.


Heather has a Bachelors in Commerce from the University of Kwazulu-Natal. She became a fund manager and joined a prominent asset management firm working as an investment consultant. In 1994 she won the South Africa Junior Equitation championships. Her brother was instrumental in exposing canned lion hunting.


One of Sonia Raciti’s dreams is to release her own CD. She was a member of the National Youth Choir for three years, having started singing at 13. Sonia, from Estcourt, studied for a higher diploma in education at Edgewood College of Education.


Miss South Africa 2003 was recently marred to Jeff. Khanyisile Mbau. She was a part-time model from Pretoria. Joan speaks five languages: English, Afrikaans, Northern Sotho, Tswana, and Zulu. After completing a PR diploma, she started her own PR agency.

Claudia HENKEL

Claudia was a second-year top law student at the University of Pretoria when she entered the Miss South Africa pageant. She has two sisters, Anica and Nicola. Her father Irmin is an ear, nose and throat surgeon, and mom Linda looked after the family home in Pretoria East. Claudia attended Pretoria Girls High and was a finalist in a model search competition in Matric. She spent two months in Italy and finished Matric through correspondence while modelling. Claudia could not represent the country at Miss World in Sanya, China, as it was held on the same night as the Miss South Africa finals in Sun City. Her runner-up, Dhiveja Sundrun, was sent in her place.


She represented South Africa at the Miss World pageant in 2005. Dhiveja was a fifth-year University of Cape Town medical student. She lives in Gardens, Cape Town. The Miss World competition was the third pageant she’d entered. Her first one was Rapport’s Miss Cape Peninsula in 2004, which gave her automatic entry into the Miss South Africa pageant. She’s appeared in TV ads and fashion catalogues, and was a TV presenter. Her father Dayalan is an orthodontist and mom Veena is a former teacher.

South Africans in the Miss World pageant

Miss South Africa has done well in the Miss World pageant, with Penny (1958) and Anneline (1974) taking the top prize.

Politics got involved and from 1978 to 1991, Miss South Africa was barred from Miss World. In 1970 a non-white South African was chosen to compete in Miss World and was given the title of Miss Africa South. This continued until South Africa was expelled from Miss World after the 1977 pageant.

In 1975, Vera JOHNS was not allowed to take part in the Miss World as she did not meet the pageant’s residency requirements. She had been Miss Rhodesia in 1972 and had not lived in South Africa for 5 years. Her first runner-up, Crystal Cooper, refused to enter Miss World unless she was awarded the Miss South Africa title and prizes.

The second runner-up, Rhoda Rademeyer, competed at Miss World 1975 and was finished in the top 15. In 1976, the presence of a black Miss Africa South and a white Miss South Africa, caused 9 countries to withdraw their contestants in protest against South Africa’s apartheid system. In 1977 ten countries withdrew in protest against the presence of a white Miss South Africa. After 1977, Miss World organizers did not accept South African contestants until 1991, with the end of apartheid. Diana TILDEN-DAVIES represented South Africa at the 1991 Miss World contest, ending the ban.

From 1992 to 1995, and 2001, the pageant was held at Sun City, South Africa. In 2002, Vanessa CARREIRA boycotted the pageant which was held in Nigeria, in protest against the Amina Lawal affair. Claire Sabbagha, runner-up, was sent as a replacement when the pageant moved to London. This led to confusion as the Miss World organisers said that at 25, Claire was too old. Karen Lourens (19), Miss Junior Africa, of Roodepoort, was also sent in as a replacement but after two days she was sent home without being allowed to participate.

Contestants at the Miss World Pageant

1957: Adele KRUGER, third

1958: Penelope Anne COELEN won the title

1959: Moya MEAKER, semi-finalist

1960: Denise MUIR, third

1961: Yvonne Brenda HULLEY, semi-finalist

1962: Yvonne Maryann FICKER, fourth

1963: Louise CROUS

1964: Vedra Karamitas

1965: Carrol Adele Davis

1966: Joan (Johanna) CARTER, semi-finalist

1967: Disa DUIVESTEIN, semi-finalist

1968: Mitsianna (Mitzi) Stander

1969: Linda Meryl COLLET, sixth

1970: Pearl Gladys JANSEN (Miss Africa South), second, and Jillian Elizabeth JESSUP (Miss South Africa) fifth

1971: Monica FAIRALL, semi-finalist, and Gaily Ryan (Miss Africa South)

1972: Stephanie Elizabeth REINECKE, semi-finalist, and Cynthia Shange (Miss Africa South)

1973: Shelley LATHAM (Miss South Africa), fifth, and Ellen PETERS (Miss Africa South), semi-finalist

1974: Anneline KRIEL won the tile, and Evelyn Peggy WILLIAMS (Miss Africa South), semi-finalist

1975: Rhoda RADEMEYER, semi-finalist, and Lydia Gloria Johnstone (Miss Africa South)

1976: Veronica Rozette Kuki Matsepe (Miss Africa South) and Lynn Massyn

1977: Vanessa Wannenburg (Miss South Africa)

1991: Diana TILDEN-DAVIS, third

1992: Amy KLEINHANS, fifth

1993: Palesa Jacqueline (Jacqui) MOFOKENG, second

1994: Basetsane Julia MAKGALEMELE, second

1995: Bernalee DANIEL, semi-finalist

1996: Peggy-Sue KHUMALO, semi-finalist

1997: Jessica MOTAUNG, third

1998: Kerishnie NAICKER, fifth

1999: Sonia RACITI, third

2000: Heather Joy HAMILTON

2001: Jo-Ann Cindy STRAUSS, semi-finalist

2002: Boycotted the pageant in Nigeria, but then joined in London

2003: Cindy Nell

2004: Joan Kwena Ramagoshi

2005: Dhiveja Sundrum, semi-finalist

2014: Roelene Strauss

2016: Candice Abrahams – won the title

South Africans in the Miss Universe Pageant.

The Miss Universe pageant has been held annually since 1952. It was started by the Californian clothing company Pacific Mills to showcase its Catalina swimwear brand. In 1996 Donald Trump acquired ownership of the pageant. Various beauty contests had the right to send a South African representative to Miss Universe.

In 1952 the winner of the Miss South Africa (Universe) contest represented South Africa. In May 1952, Catherine HIGGINS, Miss Johannesburg, represented South Africa. Her runners-up were Jean BROWNLEE (Miss Cape Town), Stella COUTTS (Miss Durban) and Helena VAN DER LINDE (Miss East London). In 1953 the winner of Miss Golden Jubilee competed in Miss Universe.

From 1960 until 1967, the South African representative for Miss Universe was elected at the Hibiscus Queen contest in Margate. The contest existed prior to 1960 and still continues today. From 1969 to 1974 South Africa did not take part in the Miss Universe pageant. In 1975, Rapport, an Afrikaans newspaper, acquired the rights to send a representative to the Miss Universe pageant. They sponsored the Miss RSA regional pageant and the winner went to Miss Universe. Gail Anthony was selected to represent South Africa in 1975. In 1978 the Miss RSA pageant became a national pageant. Jenny KAY, Miss RSA 1980, did not compete at Miss Universe 1980 in Seoul as the Korean government did not recognise the government of South Africa and refused to grant her a visa.

In 1982 the newspaper changed the name Miss RSA to Miss South Africa. This followed after a dispute about the national title and international participation. In 1982 and 1984, the dispute led to two beauty pageants – each sponsored by a Sunday paper – Rapport, and the Sunday Times, an English paper. Rapport argued that as the only pageant to have entry to an international pageant, their winner should be known as Miss South Africa. This is why there are two Miss South Africa’s in 1982 and 1984. In 1985, the newspapers agreed to join forces and one Miss South Africa pageant was held.

Miss South Africa did not compete in Miss Universe from 1985 to 1994. In 1985, Andrea Steltzer was not allowed to compete in the pageant. Andrea went on to become Miss Germany 1988 and was a semi-finalist in the 1989 Miss Universe pageant. As Miss Germany 1988 she was not allowed to enter Miss World because of her South African background.

In 1995, South Africa was again allowed to participate in the Miss Universe pageant. A new title, Miss Universe South Africa, was created but was discontinued after the 1997 pageant, as the Miss South Africa organisation acquired the right to send their winner to the Miss Universe pageant. Miss South Africa now represents South Africa in both international pageants.

Contestants at the Miss Universe Pageant

1952: Catherine Edwina Higgins, semi-finalist

1953: Ingrid Rita Mills, semi-finalist

1954-1959: no entry

1960: Nicolette Joan Caras

1961: Marina Christelis

1962: Lynette Gamble

1963: Ellen Leibenberg, semi-finalist

1964: Gail Robinson

1965: Veronika Edelgarda Hilda Prigge, semi-finalist

1966: Lynn Carol De Jager

1967: Windley Ballenden

1968: Monica Fairall

1969-1974: no entry

1975: Gail Anthony

1976: Cynthia Classen

1977: Glynis Dorothea Fester

1978: Margaret Gardiner, winner

1979: Veronika Wilson, semi-finalist and 2nd runner-up for Best National Costume

1980: no entry

1981: Daniela Di Paolo

1982: Odette Octavia Scrooby

1983: Leanne Beverly Hosking

1984: Leticia Snyman, runner-up

1985: Andrea Steltzer did not compete

1986-1994: no entry

1995: Augustine Masilela, semi-finalist

1996: Carol Anne Becker

1997: Mbali Gasa

1998: Kerishnie Naicker, semi-finalist

1999: Sonia Raciti, third

2000: Heather Joy Hamilton, semi-finalist

2001: Jo-Ann Cindy Strauss

2002: Vanessa Do Ceu Carreira

2003: Cindy Nell, third

2004: Joan Ramagoshi

Miss Africa South

The Miss Africa South competition, for non-white women, was first organised in 1970, with the winner taking part in the Miss World pageant.


1970: Pearl Jansen

1971: Gaily Ryan

1972: Cynthia Shange

1973: Ellen Peters

1974: Evelyn Williams – was the first non-white person to win the Miss South Africa pageant

1975: Lydia Johnstone

Miss International Beauty Winners:

1960 Nona Sheriff

1961 Dina Robbertse

1962 Aletta Strydom

1963 Madie Claassen

1964 Lorraine Mason

1965 Dianne Webster

1966 Dawn Duff-Gray

1967 Mary Macdonald


Naspers newspapers

Generations – A South African genealogy newsletter, Vol. 3, Iss. 19