“We have such beautiful, strong and hard working women in South Africa and I would like to urge our mothers to keep supporting, caring, loving and guiding us,” she says.
“We must avoid bowing to peer pressure and doing things that we know in our hearts are not right. Let us, as women, be there for one another. Let us take lessons from our elders.”
The 22-year-old beauty from Amandasig, Pretoria, is a a student at the University of the Free State, and is currently in her second year studying BSc Quantity Surveying.
Asked why she wanted to be Miss South Africa and what she thought she’d be able to bring to the role, she says: “As Miss South Africa, you are given a platform to be a role model to many and a duty to represent your country to the world and are given the opportunity to make a difference. For me, I would like to emphasise the need for South Africans to communicate, love, respect, care and, most importantly, embrace unity.”
Claudia Henkel and Basetsana Khumalo are two former Miss South Africa winners who have inspired Vukela. “They are both phenomenal women,” she says.
“They inspire me and also they inspire the young women of South Africa to keep on working hard. They have drive and a work ethic that I truly admire.”
Other role models who inspired Vukela are her grandmothers and grandfathers, and her
father and mother.
“My mother prepared me for the unknown. My grandmothers were hardworking and passionate. My father taught me that an education is vital but that you must also give back. I am also inspired by Haruka Nishimatsu, the CEO of Japan Airlines and his ability to promote an organisational culture where status difference is not an ideal.”
Vukela comes from a family of three brothers: Ntsako (15), Harry (25), Rhulani (7) and a little sister Tsakani (10).
“My mother passed away in 2004. She was a teacher,” Vukela says.
She also has some thoughts about South Africa celebrating 20 years of democracy next year.
“Democracy means more to me than just the word ‘freedom’ – there is so much that can be linked to that word.
“As South Africans, we are a nation that embodies the spirit of ubuntu and that is apparent with the feeling of belonging, a sense of place and the love we have provided for our fellow brothers and sisters.
“There are of course many challenges we are currently facing. I am grateful to Nelson Mandela and all the leaders who strived to achieve a sense of place and unity for all of us.”