A certain Mrs SA finalist has the right to describe the competition as slave labour, the Western Cape High Court has ruled.
Chandré Goosen-Joubert may not be wearing the crown, but she did win a court case against Mrs SA owner Joani Johnson on Tuesday.
In an urgent application, Johnson asked the court to order Goosen-Joubert to remove her criticism of the competition from social media.
She also wanted the online news website uSpiked to remove a “defamatory” article with the headline “Mrs Scam Africa: How Mrs South Africa became an ugly pageant”.
The court rejected her application.
Goosen-Joubert was declared Mrs Charity and the public’s choice for the Mrs SA title on the evening of the crowning on March 18.
She told City Press’ sister publication Rapport how she was bullied and abused into raising money for Johnson.
“I was treated like a slave and a fool.”
Goosen-Joubert said she had thought the competition was about women’s empowerment.
“I thought I could use Mrs SA as a platform to tell my own story and empower other women. I later realised that it was no more than a scheme to make money.”
She said she spent a total of R1.8 million on things including reaching fundraising targets, arranging functions, finding sponsors and buying products from the main sponsors.
Johnson said in her court papers that Goosen-Joubert’s claims were just sour grapes. She claimed that the participants knew from the beginning what they were getting themselves into.
“It seems Goosen-Joubert is a dissatisfied loser. Although she advanced to the final of the beauty pageant, she did not win it … [Perhaps] it’s because she did not win the competition … but what she did is malicious, false and defamatory.”
Johnson claims that Goosen-Joubert became “vindictive” when she wrote on Instagram on April 15 that she was not going to accept the Mrs Charity title.
Among the court documents is a confidential manual for participants that reads: “You will be required to raise a certain amount of capital during each phase of the competition, which will cover the overhead costs of the business such as salaries, fuel, telephone bills, production costs, TV and functions, and will be used for Women4Women, our official charity.”
Goosen-Joubert told City Press that promises were made that empowerment workshops in business and life skills would be offered to participants, but “there have never been any such workshops. Throughout the competition, we only had to listen to talks about how to raise money for Mrs SA and Women4Women, and how to market their sponsors’ products on social media.”
Women4Women was established by Cindy Nell-Roberts, who won the Miss SA competition in 2002.
“It was more like an army camp where we were threatened and degraded. We [were] repeatedly warned that we would be kicked out if we did not meet the fundraising goals. We were forced to spend almost all our time raising money for Mrs SA.”
She says participants had to hold fundraising functions, spend thousands of rands on tickets for a golf day and buy tickets for a women’s breakfast.
Goosen-Joubert alleges that she had to pay for her own accommodation, plane ticket and food each time, and buy the sponsors’ products to make up hundreds of gift packs to hand out at each function.
“I paid more R76 000 to two mentors. My question is: Where does women’s empowerment fit in when you have to pay for mentorship?”
The last straw was when she had to sign a contract stating that, as Mrs Charity, she would fulfil various obligations for a year and attend functions without any compensation.
“I refused to sign the contract. I’m not a dissatisfied loser. I’m furious that I was treated like an ATM. I do not intend to be abused for another year,” she said.
Johnson denied Goosen-Joubert’s allegations. She said the aim of the competition was to empower women and “provide an opportunity for devoted married women to take part in a life-changing journey and to learn how to be the best version of themselves”.
Mrs SA uses a sponsorship model in which all of its income consists of sponsorships, fundraisers and other events, said Johnson.
“We comply with all financial laws and regulations.”
She said several guest speakers presented workshops for the participants on entrepreneurship, on how to be a brand ambassador and on finding sponsors.
She also said Mrs SA provided participants with a complete manual and contract, setting out all the rules, regulations, expectations and obligations.
According to Johnson, participants are supposed to endorse the main sponsor’s products, but are not obliged to buy any of them.
Regarding the mentorship programme, she said: “No one is obliged or forced to make use of this.”
She said she could not comment on Goosen-Joubert’s personal expenses because she had not examined them.
According to her, Goosen-Joubert was named Mrs Charity because she was successful in raising about R136 000 for Women4Women.