28/05/2018 11:47 SAST | Updated 28/05/2018 13:24 SAST

Were Pre-1994 Black Beauty Queens Snubbed? 'It's A Case Of Different Brands', Say Miss SA Organisers

'We can't recognise something we didn't organise,' say Miss SA organisers, regarding the allegations of a 'racist snub' to pre-1994 beauty pageant winners.

The Miss SA crown.
Denzil Maregele/Foto24/ Gallo Images /Getty Images)
The Miss SA crown.

The organisers of the Miss SA pageant insist that the supposed "exclusion" of black pageant title-holders who were crowned pre-democracy from Sunday's Miss South Africa 60th Anniversary celebration was not a deliberate snub. Instead, they say, it's a case of branding and archive challenges.

On Sunday, Tamaryn Green — a 23-year-old medical student — took home the crown during the pageant's diamond jubilee at Sun City. Winners from pageants other than Miss SA, notably, were not considered for the 60th anniversary.

Speaking to HuffPost, events executive at the Miss SA office, Gareth Flusk, said the main reason for this was brand differentiation.

"The Miss SA brand under Sun International is different from the Miss Africa South and Miss Black South Africa brands — in fact, they were owned and managed by different organisations. So last night we simply celebrated the Miss SA title."

Flusk said the organisation understands why South Africans may perceive this as exclusion, but explained that they could only reflect on the history of the specific Miss SA brand as it stands.

The differing recognition of titles is something former Miss Black SA, Cynthia Shange also alluded to. "I was with Miss Africa South and not Miss SA; maybe they take it as a different title," she told Times Live, adding that she wasn't invited to the 2018 pageant.

Some South Africans on Twitter were not happy about the lack of recognition of past beauty queens.

Flusk acknowledged the country's unjust history — which caused the pageant to neither be inclusive or representative of the demographic of the country, but stated that the organisation is not intent on erasing that part of history.

In fact, he told HuffPost, the Miss SA organisation is now taking a step forward in being inclusive and is currently working on collating data from all South African pageant holders outside of the Miss SA brand — a task he said was almost impossible, owing to challenges with archiving of this data.

"There's a part of history where very little is written, and we're working on that."

Asked why the organisation did not embark on this task prior to the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the pageant on Sunday, he said the job was admin-intensive. "Historical inaccuracies go back to the Miss SA brand in the Fifties, when Adele Kruger won the title, so to find other organisations' details will take time."

He said that as soon as this job is done, they would ensure that this history is reflected in all the Miss SA celebrations moving forward.