FOUR more former holders of the Miss Namibia title have come forward to support the allegations of emotional abuse and financial burdens placed on their shoulders by the organisers of the annual national beauty pageant.
The beauty queens once again stepped into the limelight to support fellow contestant and Miss Namibia 2018, Selma Kamanya, who today lifted the veil on the festering corruption behind closed doors of the much-acclaimed event.
In her detailed expose, Kamanya, an advocate for the prevention and cure of mental illnesses, spoke in great lengths of her own struggles coping with mental illnesses triggered by the dire conditions created by the organisers of Miss Namibia.
|Pictured: Some of the former holders of the Miss Namibia title breaking their silence. – Photos: Contributed|
Miss Namibia 2017, Suné January, was the most vocal, revealing regular run-ins with the national director of the pageant, Conny Maritz.
“I regretted the day that I entered Miss Namibia. I had a better life as a student in India,” said January.
January added that she experienced humiliation during her reign and that she was often treated like the enemy.
“They always slandered the name of the previous winners. This was probably done to prevent us from knowing the truth. In the beginning, you’ll feel like an outsider & that you’re the only one experiencing this, but when you link up with previous title holders you find that this was the case with all of them,” January shared.
The beauty queen, who has undertaken projects to save Namibia’s endangered Rhino, further noted that financially, she was swindled out of her hard-earned money and had no salon and wardrobe sponsors.
To fulfill her title obligations, which included making several public appearances and attending Miss Universe, she relied on the support of the Rehoboth Community Trust, and Old Mutual.
“We are constantly asked to handle charity projects, when we are charity cases,” January stated.
The vocal beauty queen noted that Maritz also informed her that if the car that she was sponsored by Pupkewitz Toyota during her reign was involved in an accident, that she would have to fork out money to get it fixed,
“This is what I was told, and then you actually hear from the people of Toyota that the car has insurance. I believe I only got about N$5 000 out of the pageant via the cash prizes,” January said, adding that contestants have to keep up a fake image to make the pageant look good all the while suffering in silence.
Lizelle Esterhuizen, Miss Namibia 2016, shared what she can only describe as emotional abuse, as well as the lack of financial backing despite the numerous sponsorships that the pageant garners.
“My experience was the same.. financial support was lacking and I was criticised about the way I looked and talked,” she said.
Esterhuizen added that she only received N$10 000 from her cash prize, which she used to apply for Miss Universe.
“You are told that you are the worst Miss Namibia winner in the history of the Miss Namibia pageant. Sponsors get negative feedback from what the Miss Namibia organisers are saying about you. I’m glad someone has spoken out because when I wanted to say something, Conny Maritz threatened that she would disown me and take away the crown. That’s why none of us spoke out sooner,” Esterhuizen said.
Odile Gertze, Miss Namibia 2010, on the other hand said that all her day-to-day needs were taken care of during her reign.
“It is important to note that during my reign in 2010, finances at the organisation were more available. I had sponsors for my hair, make up, petrol and all my daily activities,“ Gertze said.
Gertze did, however, admit that there were elements in Kamanya’s expose that are unfortunately relatable, but could not be pressed to mention what they are.
Sharing her own experience, Paulina Malulu, Miss Namibia 2013, noted that not all that glitters is gold as being Miss Namibia is expensive, demanding and challenging.
She, however, admitted that that being Miss Namibia 2013 did open many doors for her.
“Selma Kamanya’s timing is in my opinion what one would call perfect timing. This testimony will test the character of the Miss Namibia organisation on how they will handle the matter. Will they allow her to gracefully crown her successor? Will they dethrone her? Will they sue for defamation,” Malulu said.
Although Maritz promised to issue a press release responding to the allegations against the Miss Namibia organisers before the closing of business, no official statement was sent at the time of publishing this.