MISS South Africa Lalela Mswane the beauty queen, who represented South Africa at the prestigious Miss Universe competition in Israel, said she felt “abandoned” when the government withdrew its support after she decided to participate despite calls to withdraw.
“I also felt a bit of anger because I don’t know what I had done so wrong to a point where people would wish death upon me just because I made a choice. I never initiated any war – this is way bigger than me. All I did was pursue a dream,” said the teary Lalela.
The 24-year-old revealed that because of the backlash she received, she sometimes questioned whether she made the right choice.
“This is because when I made that decision, it no longer became about me but the safety of my family and those I love. I received death threats and have not been able to sleep. Because of that, I don’t even think I prepared enough for this competition. Coming out third was the biggest win I could have ever achieved, and I am proud of myself,” said the KZN-born queen.
Although Lalela’s journey was filled with turmoil, she revealed that she did not feel robbed of anything from her experience. Instead, she felt that she had gained strength.
She arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Wednesday, 15 December, and was met with mixed emotions as people started shouting “free Palestine” when she was doing her walk of glory.
She shared that as she started walking and greeting people, and seeing her family for the first time in a while, she was filled with fear and uncertainty.
When asked if she would accept an apology from government if it were to issue one, Lalela said she did not think there needed to be one for her to move on or forgive.
“If an apology came my way, that would be great. If not, that is also fine as I am not waiting for it,” she said.