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Public voting is now open for the young woman the country feels should wear the Miss South Africa 2017 crown and take home a bouquet of prizes which has made the competition one of the richest in the world.

For the first time in the history of the Miss South Africa pageant – license owners Sun International, in collaboration with Cell C – invite members of the public to vote for their favourite Miss South Africa 2017 semi-finalist and propel her into the Top 12. They will then be able to vote for which girl they believe should wear the Miss South Africa crown.

During phase one, the semi-finalist who receives the most public votes will automatically become one of the Top 12 Miss South Africa 2017 finalists.

Voting is done via SMS. The public can SMS the number of their favourite Top 26 semi-finalist to the short code number 45791. For more information visit the Miss South Africa website

Each SMS will cost R1.50. Proceeds from the competition will benefit the Cell C Girl Child Bursary Fund. Up for grabs are double tickets to attend the live Miss South Africa pageant at Sun City for 10 lucky voters.The second round of public voting is scheduled to open in February 2017 when the Top 12 Miss SA 2017 finalists are announced. The public’s SMS votes will have a 25 percent weighting of the overall voting towards the winner, with 75 percent resting with the official judges.

The Miss South Africa 2017 semi-finalists are (in alphabetical order with their unique key numbers for public voting):

Adè van Heerden is a 25-year-old medical doctor and second lieutenant in the South African Military Health Services. She comes from Herold’s Bay in the Western Cape. She won Protea colours in rhythmic gymnastics at the age of 13 and was a gold medal winner at the All African Championships. As a junior doctor Adè doesn’t get much spare time, but when she does, she likes boxing and hiking as well as baking anything from extravagant cakes to brownies.

23-year-old Boipelo Mabe from Alexandra is a full time Masters student, model and news reader on Soweto TV. She was a classical ballet dancer for nine years. She credits her father as her greatest role model. “From him I have learned the principles of hard work, standing for what I believe in and to be independent.” Boipelo loves the outdoors and road trips far away from the city.

Callie-Jo Bouman (22) hails from Bellville in Cape Town and is in her third year of a B.Com Accounting with Law degree at the University of Cape Town. She is involved with the Prison Care and Support Network, visiting women in prison as well as working with the families they have left behind. Her father, she says, taught her that education is the key to success. Callie-Jo keeps active by going to gym, playing netball, running, swimming and dancing. She also sings in the church’s youth band.

Chante Holloway is a 22-year-old student at the University of Western Cape majoring in French and politics. She comes from Atlantis in the Western Cape. Chante says she has always wanted to be a role model for her community. There was often gang activity in the area, but she says she refused to succumb to it growing up. She lived for a while in the US where she auditioned for the New York Film Academy. She loves the outdoors, goes quad biking and can ride a motorbike. She’s also something of a foodie!

Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters from Sedgefield in the Western Cape is a 21-year-old final year B.Com Business Management and entrepreneurship student. She is also a part- time model at Boss Models and Vision Management. She was the first girl in her high school to be chosen as head girl of both the school and its hostel. Demi-Leigh was also elected the Deputy Junior Mayor of the George City Council. She makes handmade cards and does scrapbooking. She says her biggest motivator is her half-sister who is disabled.

Devoney Crossman is a 24-year-old human resources administrative consultant and co-owner of Olive + Maroon, a women’s clothing, jewellery and sunglasses brand. She lives in Greenstone Johannesburg. Crossman was adopted by her aunt and uncle when she was just two years old following the death of her parents. She is a real foodie. She has two dogs and enjoys visiting the bush. If she could meet one person in her Miss SA journey it would be Caster Semenya.

Iman Mkwanazi (26) is a professional model who also happens to run her own construction company. Hailing from Lenasia, Iman says that she is really shy and often goes red in the face when meeting new people who pay her compliments. Her favourite Miss South Africa is Basetsana Kumalo whom she admires for her business skills. In her spare time Iman reads while also visiting new restaurants, going to art galleries and hiking.

23-year-old Jessica Tovey, from Randpark Ridge, is a speech therapist and audiologist in community service. A burn accident left her brother with both hearing loss and physical disabilities and so she wants to change the perceptions towards those living with disabilities and would love to be an ambassador for this community. She is inspired by her father Neil, a former Bafana Bafana soccer captain and currently technical director at the SA Football Association (SAFA).

Kayla Malherbe is a 21-year-old model from Mtunzini in Kwa Zulu Natal. For her, former Miss South Africa and Miss World Rolene Strauss is the epitome of beauty with a purpose. Kayla wants to be Miss South Africa in order to inspire the whole of South Africa to want to make a change for the better. She is passionate about children and can often be found helping out at the small school in her home town.

Keipeile Dintoe (25) is a data analyst from Saulsville near Pretoria. She wants to help empower young women and lists her mother – with her strong work ethic – as the major role model in her life. In her spare time Keipeile loves binge-watching television series. She admits to loving cleaning: “I find it to be very relaxing and I really enjoy being in a clean space as it also helps me think clearly.” Her favourite food is pasta.

Twenty-three-year-old Lou-Marie Taljaard is a full time model from Bellville in Cape Town. She has always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and believes that the Miss South Africa platform will enable her to achieve this. She likes to have “me-time” and finds it therapeutic to do her nails, put on a face mask and be in her own space. She likes to write messages of appreciation to friends and family and make people feel special when they least expect it. She loves her grandmother’s Sunday lunches which often end with malva pudding.

Michelle Kruger (21), from Witbank in Mpumalanga, is a second year BA Law student at the University of Pretoria. She has dreamt of entering the Miss South Africa pageant since she was 10-years-old. She says she is an adventure seeker and loves being active with her weekly routine, including running, yoga and hiking. She played Dezi the waitress in season 10 of Getroud met Rugby. She enjoys music that puts her in a good mood and listens to anything with a beat that she can dance to.

Milanie Cilliers is a 22-year-old from Mokopane in Limpopo. She is a junior content editor at VENDS, a global social media company while also studying fashion at Intec College. Although she has been fortunate to travel the world, Milanie is passionate about the bush – she grew up on a Big 5 game reserve and has had every pet one can imagine. She loves spending time on the game reserve, hiking, doing outdoor activities and reading inspirational books. Tea time with her grandparents is a treasured treat.

Twenty-six-year-old Nicole van Niekerk from Môregloed in Pretoria is an events planner who specialises in children’s parties, a part time model and au-pair. She likes spending time with her family and her labrador Kaylee. Nicole says she takes inspiration from her mother who got a degree when she was in her 50s. Nicole – who recently took up ballet classes – admits to be terrified of heights. She is a vegetarian whose favourite meal is pasta mixed with vegetables.

Nompumelelo Mampholo (20) from Diepkloof in Soweto is a shareholder in Conquerors, an event and management company. Growing up, Nompumelelo used to be a real tomboy. She loves spending time with family and friends, playing sport, going to the gym and reading inspirational books. Nompumelelo would use the Miss South Africa prize money to go back to school and complete her studies. Her father works in the field of arts, culture and heritage and her mother is a sergeant in the South Africa Police.

Ntombikayise Msimango (21) of Springs is currently studying for her final year in BA Law and looking forward to starting her LLB in 2017. She spends what spare time she has with friends and family. Ntombikayise also enjoys watching movies, going to the park or exploring new restaurants with friends – especially if there is sushi involved! However, she also says she could definitely live off her mother’s stew and dumplings. Her mother was also a pageant queen.

Twenty-three-year-old Odirile Sepeng from Mapobane in Pretoria is a B.Com Law student at Varsity College. She loves drawing and painting and is interested in photography. Odirile always says that the best days are unplanned, random and spontaneous, so a hike with friends or a picnic at the park is always a good idea. She is also a Latin American and ballroom dancer. She currently focuses on her law books but when she needs a dose of inspiration she references one of her favourite books, The Secret.

Olin-Shae De La Cruz (22) from Claremont in Cape Town is a Boston Media House student, studying business administration in media operations management. She also works on a part-time basis with a youth marketing company and is a brand activator and presenter for various brand campaigns and roadshows. She used to jog and hike, but after moving to Johannesburg she found herself in the gym and mostly reading text books for her studies. She was a pescetarian for five years.

Priyeshka Lutchman (24) from Yellowwood Park in Durban is a business management student and model. She likes spending her spare time with friends enjoying long lunches and board games. Other favourite pastimes are listening to music, going on picnics and traveling to beautiful and adventurous destinations. Priyeshka loves amusement parks and will always go on the scariest rides which give her an adrenaline rush. She has three brothers.

Saskia Wagner is an 18-year-old (19 in December) from Honeydew who is studying her first year Bachelor of Accounting degree at Stellenbosch University on her path to becoming a chartered accountant. She is also a part-time model. From the age of two until 16 she did ballet and stopped at advanced one. She started horse-riding at the age of 14 and represented her school in many competitions, receiving regional and national colours. Other hobbies are reading and relaxing or spending time with her loved ones. Saskia says maths makes her happy and she loves problem solving.

Shané Naidoo (24) of Benoni is an industrial engineering student at the University of the Witwatersrand who is set to graduate in 2016. She enjoys being outdoors and staying fit and active. Another favourite pastime is trying out new restaurants. Shané loves to bake and often spends Sunday afternoons trying out new healthy recipes to satisfy her sweet tooth. Shané – a Miss South Africa finalist in 2015 – boxes to keep fit and says she throws a mean right hook!

Shelbe Pretorius (23) from Krugersdorp is the owner of Flair promotional models. She enjoys having lunch dates with her friends on one of her rare days off. She is a committee member at House Jade (a haven for orphaned children); a volunteer youth worker at Christ Kids Trust and works at the West Rand School, a school for children with disabilities and special needs. Shelbe – who loves making people laugh – says her favourite meal is a good rump steak and vegetables!

Shenai Bridglall (22) from Port Shepstone is an honours student at the University of Cape Town, currently completing her Business Science degree. She is the founder of her own non-profit organisation, The EssBee Foundation, which focuses on education, personal hygiene, nutrition and women empowerment. She believes the key to success of any sort is a well-balanced lifestyle. Her dream is to start her own luxury accessories brand specialising in shoes and handbags. She has been fortunate enough to travel to 39 countries.

Twenty-three-year-old Tshegofatso Monggae comes from Dobsonville in Soweto and is a marketing intern at African Fashion International. It is a childhood dream to be crowned Miss South Africa and she was a Top12 finalist in 2014. She has seven siblings with businessmen, economists, bankers and a lawyer in the family. She reads books and listens to music, particularly hip hop. Tshegofatso says she can be quite the comedian around friends and family.

Yuta Raubenheimer, from Kameeldrift near Pretoria, is a 25-year-old customer service supervisor for Gautrain. She loves dancing and used to do some contemporary ballet but now does sh’bam, zumba and advanced aerobics. She is also involved with Toastmasters, sings at her church’s worship team and takes part in a number of charity projects. Her first career choice was to join the South African Defence Force as an air force pilot, as serving South Africa has always been her heart’s desire.

Zozibini Tunzi is a 23-year-old part time model from East London who is an unashamed daddy’s girl. Her first beauty competition was a pageant held in her local church which helped her grow in confidence and she has always been inspired by former Miss South Africa and businesswoman Basetsana Kumalo. Zozibini says that growing up she wasn’t very athletic and was always reading. She is a real foodie and loves eating out with her older sister. She also loves singing.

Miss South Africa 2017 will receive R1-million in cash from Sun International and Cell C as well as a bouquet of prizes that includes a car, an international holiday and other prizes worth in excess of R2-million.

The finalists for 2017 will each receive a R25 000 cash prize which they will be given immediately they are named as finalists in February next year. All finalists are also able to take part in the 12-month Cell C internship programme should they choose to avail themselves of the opportunity once the Miss South Africa 2017 competition is over.

Miss South Africa 2017 takes place at the Sun City Superbowl on March 26 in an event which will be televised live and simulcast on M-Net and Mzansi Magic.

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