Miss South Africa Lalela Mswane, who finished in third place at the Miss Universe pageant in Israel, spoke emotionally to the media upon arriving home, explaining that she had received death threats for ignoring anti-Israel calls to boycott the event.
According to reports, as she entered the airport in South Africa, Mswane was greeted by a crowd of supportive fans but there were also protesters chanting "Free Palestine!"
Her participation in the beauty pageant been met with backlash by anti-Israel groups in South Africa, who had demanded she boycott the contest because it was taking place in Israel.
“I’m back now and I’m not even certain if sometimes I question whether going was even the correct choice just because when I made that decision, it no longer became about me but the safety of my family and those I love and to receive death threats, to not be able to sleep. I don’t even think I prepared for this competition," said Mswane, who finished in the Miss Universe contest as second runner-up. "So for me, being third is the biggest win I could have ever achieved, and I’m extremely proud of myself.”
She also spoke about whether she regretted standing up to the voices in her country calling for her to boycott Israel.
“Everybody that knows me knows I would have done it," she answered. "Only because I’m a firm believer in not succumbing to pressure. I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. I’m not in the wrong. I have a responsibility to my people, yes, but I will not be bullied into making any sort of decision and also I was of the view that I’m being attacked. That’s very immature. Imagine I hadn’t gone. What would have happened? It wouldn’t serve anyone. So I’d definitely do it again.”
South African Friends of Israel praised her for participating in Miss Universe. They tweeted: “We are proud of you Lalela!”