Messages of congratulations continue to pour in for Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters after she won the 66th Miss Universe pageant at Planet Hollywood hotel-casino in Las Vegas late Sunday (early Monday morning South African time).
Nel-Peters became only the second South African to win the title after Margaret Gardiner, who triumphed in 1978. She competed against 91 contestants from around the globe, the biggest number of entrants in the history of the competition.
South African President Jacob Zuma congratulated Nel-Peters, the reigning Miss South Africa, saying she had made the country proud.
“Our nation is immensely proud of Ms Demi-Leigh for this tremendous achievement. She has hoisted the South African flag higher, and continues to inspire many young women who look up to her, to reach even higher for their dreams,” Zuma said.
“We congratulate her most heartily, and wish her all the best during her reign which is South Africa’s reign.”
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa also congratulated Nel-Peters on Twitter, saying: “Thank you representing us with distinction and flying our flag high.”
The ANC Youth League national spokesperson Mlondi Mkhize said: “We hope that she will use this position of influence to become a good role model for young girls in the country, the continent and even the globe. Her rise to the thrown must become a source of inspiration for many other young people in this country.”
The 22-year-old from Sedgefield in the Western Cape was one of the hot favourites going into the pageant, and outdid the top 16 comprised four entrants from Asia Pacific and Africa, four from Europe, four from the Americas and four wildcards voted for by the judges.
In her acceptance speech, Nel-Peters said she was both proud and humbled to have won and that her dreams had become a reality.
“I resonate with everything that the Miss Universe organisation stands for, especially empowering women across the globe. I have always tried to be the example of the change I want to see in the world, and this platform will give me the opportunity to make a difference,” Nel-Peters said.
“I hope I have made South Africans proud and that I will continue to do so during my reign.”
– African News Agency (ANA)