While stunning good looks, charm and intelligence may have thrust Lebogang Mahlangu into the Miss SA finals, it is her deep commitment to uplift the youth of South Africa that has set her eyes on the coveted crown.
She hopes to assist young men and women to become social entrepreneurs – especially in the Shoshanguve township in Pretoria where she grew up – because the youth are denied positive opportunities, resulting in high crime, substance abuse and other behavioural problems.
Driven by a strong philanthropic spirit, she has started a bakery in Shoshanguve that provides bread that is much cheaper than the local shops so that the money saved can be used by residents for other essentials, such as public transport.
Lebo, as she is affectionately known, was born on 1 April 1996. She has an older brother and her younger brother and sister are twins.
She attended Kgotlelelang Primary School where she developed a love for soccer, so much so, that she attended Rosina-Sedibane Modiba Sports School to further hone her skills. Her prowess on the soccer field saw her representing Gauteng in provincial games.
After completing matric, Lebo enrolled for a four-year BSc Food Science degree at Stellenbosch University, which prepared her to land a job at global FMCG company Unilever as a R&D food technologist.
However, Lebo yearned to give back to her community in Shoshunguve and decided to enter beauty pageants to help raise money to start a business that would create jobs.
Hard work which saw her putting in six months of training and preparation paid dividends in 2018 when she won the Miss Mamelodi Sundowns Pageant. She used the prize money to fund the launch of her bakery at her parents’ house which she extended.
While her mother works as an administrator, her father who was a driver at a cold meat production outlet unfortunately lost his job two years ago during the outbreak of the foodborne disease, listeriosis.
“My father now helps oversee the bakery and this is a great help because I work in Durban.
“Bread is a staple food for many township residents and the bakery is popular because we sell a superior product at an affordable price.
“Now that the bakery is running smoothly, I want to look at setting up more businesses and offer shares to young men and women.
“Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic hangs like a dark cloud over the whole world. However, I want to offer the youth something to look forward to despite the doom and gloom.
“If I clinch the Miss SA title, I will use my winnings to provide spaces for young people to grow and make an impact,” said the effervescent Lebo.