The Miss South Africa Top 10 finalists went on a journey to discover their human origins at the weekend, and there to help them was leading South African scientist Dr Keneiloe Molopyane.

This was the last official function undertaken by the Top 10 who now leave to return home, after a whirlwind fortnight, ahead of the pageant finale in August. 

Dr Molopyane – affectionately known to her friends and colleagues as Bones and who has been dubbed “South Africa’s underground astronaut”  – is the principal investigator at the Gladysvale fossil excavation site and the first woman of colour to head a dig in the Malapa Motsetse Nature Reserve situated in the Greater Cradle of Humankind. The Top 10 also visited the set of Shaka Zulu which is being filmed on the same property.

The Gladysvale site on the privately owned 9-000 hectare reserve was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1999. The reserve is protected in perpetuity and funded from profits earned by the award-winning Cradle Boutique Hotel, the only hotel in the world situated on an active paleoanthropological site.

Dr Molopyane introduced the fascinated Top 10 to their ancient human ancestors, unearthed on the reserve and now housed in the Malapa Museum adjoining the Cradle Boutique Hotel. The unique museum, built in partnership with paleoanthropologist Professor Lee Berger’s Foundation, National Geographic and the Malapa Motsetse Foundation, houses fossils that tell the story of the origins of man. 

She said: “I am fortunate to be able to work within this fossil rich reserve. It’s been fun to share my excitement with the women who will become South Africa’s ambassadors, taking part of the story of human origins with them and raising critical interest in our globally shared heritage.”

They were also taken on a game drive that traversed the property, taking in the Shaka Zulu set as well as the wildlife, rare flora, unique trees and appearing and disappearing streams. They were also shown the aquaponics farm and shown how sustainable methods are used to ensure that everything on the property meets strict ‘green’ codes.

Said Stephanie Weil, CEO of Miss South Africa Organisation: “It was a privilege for us all to be able to learn about where we come from. This reserve is remarkable in that you are in the bush and yet just 45 minutes away from Africa’s financial hub, Sandton!”

Cradle Boutique Hotel CEO Kobus Botha said: “As the custodians of this precious land we are always excited to share the story of the Origins of humankind and the discoveries made here.”

The Top 10 who are competing to take the crown are Anarzade Omar, Ayanda Thabethe, Itumeleng Parage, KeaolebogaNkashe, Lebogang Mahlangu, Luvé Meyer, Luyanda Zuma, Ndavi Nokeri, Pearl Ntshehi and Tamsyn Jack.

The Miss South Africa pageant is back in Gauteng this year with the 2022 winner set to be crowned at Sun International’s flagship venue, the SunBet Arena at Time Square, Pretoria. It promises to be a spectacular and entertainment-packed show and will fittingly take place during Women’s Month, on Saturday, August 13. 


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