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• Miss Necati Sithole wore Israeli designer gown to pageant • Miss South Africa 2018 is Marelise Junoux
The beauty queen that secured the honour of representing the African continent at the Miss Universe pageant in Israel has caused a storm of controversy in South Africa by wearing a dress designed by an Israeli boutique owner who is staunchly pro-Israeli.
Necati Sithole’s outfit, which has been widely ridiculed on social media, has prompted comparisons with the former Miss Israel, whom the South African has also been accused of emulating.
Necati Sithole (@NecatiSithole) LETS GET IT!! Makeup included.
WE MADE IT! #MissUniverse2019 @MissUNESCO pic.twitter.com/iXHPPuj4ly
Miss South Africa, Marelise Junoux, won the right to represent the continent in May at a competition in Russia where Sithole was crowned Miss Universe Universe of Africa, one of four such competitions on the continent.
While the former Miss Israel is no longer allowed to compete in events in the Middle East, Sithole was invited to take part in the Miss Universe pageant for winning the South African title.
Marelise Junoux (@Mielabrodo) See you in Tel Aviv! 😉 #Heroes #RiseUp #YES 💪 pic.twitter.com/JK6Gphvkym
Sithole was later photographed in front of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and the Kotel, the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Play Video 2:11 Miss Universe South Africa Namibia: the story of Marelise Junoux – video
Both organisations are protected under the 1998 Palestine Non-Resident Status Act. There are no restrictions on Israeli products in South Africa.
According to Rune Ebriel, an internet satirist who posted a picture of Sithole wearing the dress, Sithole’s mother, Joyce Muse, is the owner of Artelsberg.
But Muse told Afrikaans-language newspaper Rapport that her daughter “had nothing to do with it”.
The dress is priced at more than £3,000, according to Ebriel, whose Instagram posts and headlines have caused a storm on social media.
A spokeswoman for South Africa’s Bureau of Consular Affairs in Israel said the issue had been addressed with Israel.
Junoux was appointed to represent South Africa in the Miss Universe pageant in May at a competition in Russia where Sithole was crowned Miss Universe of Africa, one of four such competitions on the continent.
The former Miss Israel is no longer allowed to compete in events in the Middle East.
Militant anti-Israel groups have harassed the African contestants over a history of alleged ties to Israel.
Among those pictures taken during the Miss Universe pageant in Russia was that of Junoux standing in front of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, apparently in support of a boycott of the contest.
Israel and Palestine, the only two countries not to have had a peace accord, have been at odds over who should control the Haram al-Sharif holy site in Jerusalem, considered by both to be their third holiest site.
The Palestinian leadership alleges Israel is encroaching on Muslim-run shrines in the area of the city where Judaism, Christianity and Islam converge.
Israel says its security concerns are legitimate and that it acts with restraint.
The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of a future state. Israel captured and annexed the area in the 1967 Middle East war and considers all of Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital.