Simba king for TV

SIMBA Mhere is the youngest and newest addition to Top Billing after winning the TV show's presenter search competition.

The 22-year-old Zimbabwean-born University of Johannesburg student and former 100m Gauteng champs athlete beat runner-up Kalysha Naidoo and more than 5000 other hopefuls from around the country.

"As an athlete I've always imagined the best feeling would be running past the finish line at the Olympics. Winning the presenter search is the equivalent for me."

Mhere's missionary parents moved to Johannesburg when he was a year old. Today he feels he has "especially done black people and Zimbabweans proud."

"I've been getting messages and calls from girls declaring their undying love for me. But I'm going to remain the Simba I've always been."

The major change since the start of the competition is his weight.

"When Alan Ford (independent producer and judge) called me to inform me I had made it to the top 14 he advised me to lose the belly."

He lost 13 kg in 10 days by following a strict diet and working out.

"I decided I was not going to allow my dream pass me by just because I wasn't looking after myself," he says.

Ford says: "Simba has a beautiful voice; he looks great, he's friendly on and off television. He is natural and his compassion comes through in his eyes."

His parents and 16-year-old sister have been his greatest supporters.

"I'm not from a very wealthy family but when I reached the finals my parents opened a clothing account."

He has three goals: "To build the 'Simba Mhere brand', to present Miss South Africa, but most importantly to bring glory to God in all I do."

He is adamant he will do B Com honours next year and an MBA.

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