Bryoni Govender, who placed as first runner-up at the Miss South Africa 2023 finale last month, is delighted to be representing South Africa at the 72nd Miss Universe Competition which takes place in El Salvador on November 18. The pageant was last held in the Central American country in 1975.


Govender was named Miss Universe South Africa, and will be the first person of Indian heritage to represent the country since Miss South Africa 1997 Kerishnie Naiker was placed in the Top 10 at the Miss Universe pageant in 1998.


“I have always believed that being different is a superpower and becoming the second South African of Indian descent to represent our beautiful country on the international stage is a testament to that fact. I will be giving the competition my all and have already started extensive preparations.


“I cannot describe how excited I am to start this Miss Universe journey and, as this new chapter unfolds, I am fully committed to my support of women equality in South Africa. My advocacy is to address and remove the gaps in the progress of women empowerment by introducing mentorship programmes focusing on business and leadership courses, entrepreneurial and job training programmes and skills development training programmes on secondary to post-tertiary levels of education for girls and women.”


Govender has a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Johannesburg and was admitted as an attorney in July this year whilst she participated in the Miss South Africa pageant.


She comes from a small but close knit family. Her father, Deven, is a business owner in the industrial supply space while her mother, Shireen, owns an aesthetic beauty salon. She has an older brother who works as an organic farmer in Germany.


Rikkie Kollé of The Netherlands will be the second transgender woman to compete at this year’s Miss Universe after Ángela Ponce of Spain in 2018 while Camila Avella of Colombia and Michelle Cohn of Guatemala become the first married women and mothers to compete in the competition after the Miss Universe Organisation lifted the rule of mothers not being eligible to compete.


The 2023 pageant also marks the debut of Pakistan and the returns of Bangladesh, Denmark, Egypt, Guyana, Hungary, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Norway and Zimbabwe (our neighbour last participated in the competition in 2001).


South Africa is one of the top pageant countries in the world and has had an impressive track record at the Miss Universe pageant in the past few years:


  • 2017 – Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters (Tebow) crowned Miss Universe
  • 2018 – Tamaryn Green (Green-Nxumalo), first runner-up
  • 2019 – Zozibini Tunzi, crowned Miss Universe
  • 2021 – Lalela Mswane, second runner-up


Miss South Africa is presented by Weil Entertainment in association with Sun International. SABC3 is the official broadcast partner.