Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane made the Top 3 at the 70th Miss Universe pageant.

Miss India Harnaaz Sandhu, was crowned Miss Universe at the pageant which was held in Eilat, Israel. Nadia Ferreira, Miss Paraguay the first runner-up

In her final speech before the winner was announced, Mswane urged young women to “choose courage over comfort,” saying: “I would like young women to know that since the beginning of time they have had everything within them to achieve anything they wanted, it is the world that convinced that we do not.”

Mswane’s participation courted controversy as pro-Palestine activists wanted her to boycott the pageant and not travel to Israel. The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture also withdrew its support of Miss South Africa organisation.

Ahead of the pageant, the CEO of the Miss South Africa Organisation, Stephanie Weil said that they fully supported Mswane travelling to Israel.

Weil said a “very, very small, but extremely vocal, group” had attempted, and failed, to derail Mswane’s chances at the prestigious international pageant.

She added: “Lalela will be a role model to young women – not just across the country, but across the African continent. Anyone who wants to rob Lalela of her moment in the spotlight is unkind and short-sighted. She is the shining beacon for young women everywhere, showing them that being beautiful while being clever and educated is very possible.”

The pageant was broadcast live during the early hours of Monday morning but there is a repeat broadcast airing on M-Net’s Me (DStv 115) on Sunday 19 December at 20:00, making the broadcast available to more lower-tiered DStv subscribers.