Miss South Africa top 12 finalist, Levern ‘Donatella’ José, has made the difficult decision to withdraw from this year’s pageant following allegations of bullying by her schoolmates on social media. The Miss South Africa organization expressed their non-acceptance of any form of bullying and released a statement supporting José’s decision to prioritize her healing process.
The organization stated, “The Miss South Africa organization 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.”
In response to the bullying accusations, the organization and its CEO, Stephanie Weil, initially refrained from commenting on the matter, as reported by News24 last week.
José, a 23-year-old contestant, addressed the allegations in a press statement, acknowledging her experiences with bullying and expressing her apologies if her actions of self-protection had caused harm. She conveyed deep remorse and emphasized her commitment to kindness, respect, and empathy as guiding principles in her life.
“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,” José stated.
José further expressed her dedication to combating bullying and raising awareness about the issue, vowing to uphold principles of fairness and justice. Despite the immense pressure she has faced, she affirmed her unwavering stance on promoting fairness and compassion in all interactions.
“Please know that I am determined to work against bullying to bring about wider awareness about this issue. I am unwavering in my stance to upholding what is right and just. I am human; the pressure has been immense and has taken its toll on me. Together, let’s strive for fairness and compassion in all our interactions with others,” José added.
This is not the first time a Miss South Africa contestant has withdrawn from the competition due to controversy. In 2020, Bianca Schoombee withdrew her entry after racist and crude tweets she made years earlier resurfaced, sparking public outrage and prompting her to step back.