Miss SA contestant withdraws from competition after bullying claims

Miss SA contestant withdraws from competition after bullying claims

Levern 'Donnatella' José has decided to pull out of the competition. 

Levern 'Donnatella' José
Miss SA 2023 finalist Levern 'Donnatella' José / Instagram (@levern_jose)

Miss South Africa Top 12 finalist, Levern 'Donnatella' José, is bowing out of the beauty pageant. 

The announcement comes after several people came forward to accuse the 23-year-old of bullying. Some went as far as accusing her of being the “ringleader of a bullying squad” in high school. 

Some social media users took to the comments section of Miss SA's official Instagram page to voice their concerns. 

"Bullying scars people for life. She should also be affected by her actions for life. She terrorised school children and parents. I hope Ms SA does something about these allegations," one user wrote. 

Miss SA officials released a statement on Tuesday announcing that Levern will no longer be competing.

"The Miss South Africa organisation does not condone bullying of any kind. We accept Levern's decision to pull out of the competition and respect her for owning her truth and taking this time to focus on her own healing," the statement read. 

Levern, who hails from Kimberley in the Northern Cape, revealed in a statement that she is a survivor of bullying. 

"As a survivor of bullying, I learned how to protect myself from bullying during my school years. If my actions in protecting myself caused harm to anyone, I offer my sincere apologies. The pain of being a target has left an indelible mark on my heart, and I would never intentionally cause hurt or contribute to someone else's suffering," she said. 

In 2020, Miss SA hopeful Bianca Schoombee also found herself in hot water after social media users uncovered offensive tweets she made as a teenager. She later withdrew her entry from the pageant. 

Social media users, meanwhile, are reacting to news of Levern's departure. 

"Now that Levern 'Donatella' José has withdrew from from running for Miss SA following allegations of bullying, she must also apologise to each and every single victim that she bullied," one Twitter user wrote. 

Another user added: "Miss SA needs To be audited on how they pick participants. We can't be dealing with same issue every year with different characters."

A third person tweeted: "One competition that will have your hidden skeletons displayed on large screen for the whole country to see, it's the Miss SA pageant. They keep fetching them.

The Miss South Africa 2023 final will be taking place in Pretoria on Sunday, August 13. Sadly, there are currently no KwaZulu-Natal contestants in the top 12. 

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