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From Mandisa Mfeka to Zozibini Tunzi - Five women who slayed 2019

Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss SA and Miss Universe in 2019.
Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss SA and Miss Universe in 2019.
Image: Supplied/ Miss SA

Bonang Matheba, Naledi Chirwa, Zozibini Tunzi, Saray Khumalo and Mandisa Mfeka - these five women slayed 2019 with big moves, impressive victories and, in some cases, made history.

It's been a difficult year for SA women with so many cases of abuse and femicide, but these five women inspired and spread hope.

Zozibini Tunzi 

Zozibini Tunzi was crowned Miss SA on a significant day for South African women, August 9, National Women's Day, and used the stage to share her views on women abuse and gender-based violence.

Tunzi said: “We have absolutely no reason to keep smiling, because South African women are dying every day and mostly people are doing nothing about it. It is not up to us, it’s up to perpetrators to start doing right.”

This win propelled her on the path to the Miss Universe title, where she further cemented herself as an advocate for women's rights and natural, African beauty. Tunzi became the country's first black Miss SA to win the Miss Universe title, and the first Miss Universe to be adorned with the new diamond-studded Miss Universe crown, called “The Power of Unity”.

Bonang Matheba

All-round media personality Bonang Matheba made 2019 the year she ventured into business by launching her House of BNG brut methode cap classique (MCC) and a brut rose MCC, which is SA's equivalent to champagne.

A huge achievement on its own, the move also made history as Bonang become the first black woman to become a member of the Cap Classique Producers' Association.

Since its launch, House of BNG has graced Prince Kaybee's music video as well as some of the country's biggest events, including President Cyril Ramaphosa's inauguration, became the official Miss SA celebration partner and a Vodacom Durban July partner, to name just a few.

Saray Khumalo 

After four attempts at climbing Mount Everest, Saray Khumalo finally made history by becoming the first black African woman to conquer the mountain. Speaking about her desire to achieve the unthinkable, Khumalo said, “My dream is to go higher and go further for as long as I breathe. To pave a way for my children and other ordinary people, so we may realise and accept that ordinary people like us can achieve extraordinary heights."

Her inspirational journey began on April 20 and ended on May 16 with her standing “on top of the world”.

Naledi Chirwa 

Naledi Chirwa is the EFF's youngest female MP.

She rose to prominence in 2015 during the height of the fees must fall protests, during which activists advocated for free higher education for poor students. In 2016, Chirwa was arrested while she was studying drama at the University of Pretoria, where she was later suspended.

During her maiden speech in June this year, she highlighted the plight of women, particularly lesbians, and said, “I am infuriated by your tone-deaf attitude to thousands of lesbian women, subjected to corrective rapes and facing their tormentors in the streets, because our criminal justice system cannot protect those who sex differently.” 

Chirwa also raised the issue of equality and inclusion of women in the political and economic spheres.

Mandisa Mfeka

On May 25, South Africans were introduced to Major Mandisa Mfeka, SA's first black female combat fighter pilot. Mfeka's participation in Ramaphosa's inauguration may have seen her become an overnight sensation, but she had been flying over our skies for a number of years.

She joined the South African Air Force (SAAF) in 2008, and enrolled at the Central Flying School in Langebaan, Western Cape, and received her licence in 2011.

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