All is not well in the world of Mr South Africa – the country’s premier men’s beauty pageant. Good looks and big sponsors are on the line as allegations fly that pageant money has gone missing.
In a few weeks’ time Mr South Africa will host a glitzy finale showcasing the finest-looking men in South Africa.
But contestants want to know what happened to the money they raised for the event, which was to have been held at the end of last year but was postponed to the end of 2016. To their surprise, they were instructed to strut their stuff once again and raise more money for the pageant.
Their questions have raised the ire of the pageant’s owner and organiser, Rudi Baker.
Mpumalanga-born Nicholas Mashiane was unceremoniously axed from the competition when he demanded an account of the monies raised by the top 50 beauty kings last year.
Nicholas Mashiane. (G3 Models)
Mashiane claims he personally raised R6 000. “Each person had to raise a minimum of R5 000 – and at that time there were 50 contestants. We did [raise the money]. I remember one guy raised about R100 000,” he said.
Mashiane says they deposited the money into Baker’s bank account.
A flurry of heated messages were exchanged between the pageant kingpin and some of the contestants when they were asked to fundraise once again.
Mashiane led the charge. “I went to a local newspaper to highlight my fundraising. I was asked what happened to the competition last year. I couldn’t answer.
“I [then] sent Rudi a WhatsApp asking about last year’s money.”
Baker allegedly responded to warn him that he would “not hesitate to eliminate you should this happen again”, further cautioning him to “please be careful”.
“Feel free to direct those questions to me, Nick. I will not have an instigator as part of the semi finalists. If this is the way you think you will win, you are mistaken. In fact this was your last threat or negative comment about the brand, or anyone associated with Mr SA or the contestants,” reads Baker’s WhatsApp.
Mr South Africa organiser Rudi Baker. (Facebook)
A few weeks later Mashiane was handed a letter of suspension.
Another former contestant, who did not want to be named, said he worked really hard to raise funds, which was especially difficult because he comes from a rural area.
“Many of us were angry that all the work we put in last year didn’t get us anywhere,” he said.
Asked what had happened to the money, Baker said it was used for running the business.
“Unlike Miss South Africa, the brand is not owned by a corporate sponsor, ie Sun International, that can fund the operating expenses incurred. Mr South Africa is [a] privately owned and self-funded business,” he said.