Ezibeleni-born Khayakazi Koto is in the running to be crowned Miss Bachelorette South Africa, a pageant for women aged between 25 and 50.
Koto, 40, who now lives in Johannesburg, recently made her way back to her home town to host a fun day at the Hebron Christian Primary School as part of her Miss Bachelorette portfolio.
The competition requires finalists to raise funds for Ekuphumleni Restoration Home, a centre for women who have been victims of sexual abuse; rape; human trafficking and who are former sex workers.
“In order to raise funds for the home I decided to host a fun day. The aim was not only to raise funds for Ekuphumleni, but also to seek donations so that the children of Ezibeleni benefit.
“I solicited the help of family, friends and strangers through word of mouth, radio interviews and social media. While we raised funds for Ekuphumleni we also managed to collect school shoes, reading books and buy netball and soccer kit for the children at Hebron Christian Primary School,” she said.
Koto said she identified with the values of the competition and if she wins, will start an academy for young girls.
“It spoke to my passion of empowering the girl child. While recognisng and empowering mature, unmarried and independent women, it also inspires young girls to see the importance of being financially and emotionally independent.
“Apart from the standard duties of the reigning queen, I will use the knowledge acquired through this experience to finally start an academy for young girls in my neighbourhood.
“We will focus mainly on girls struggling with self-belief and confidence because they are raised in households where there is a lot of alcohol abuse.”
She added that this was a cause close to her heart because it was once her reality.
Koto is currently the deputy director for radio at the department of international relations and cooperation of South Africa.