Tshego Gaelae: The Soweto-born lawyer who became Mrs South Africa 2024
This year’s Dallmayr Mrs South Africa Queen is none other than the incredible and inspirational Tshego Gaelae from Centurion in Gauteng. She was crowned on Friday, 17 November during the star-studded finale at the Theatre of Marcellus at Emperors Palace during the spectacular 2023 Grand Finale.
Born and raised in Soweto, Tshego dreamed of one day becoming an attorney who fought for those who couldn’t fend for themselves. She achieved this goal, but soon felt dissatisfied with the routine she had created for herself. She wanted to do more and be more. That is when she discovered the Dallmayr Mrs South Africa programme.
‘When you find yourself in a rut, doing the same unexciting things every day, you ask yourself who you want to be and where you want to go. I wasn’t unhappy by any means, and my family has always been incredible. I just wanted to try something new and push myself further than I’ve ever gone,’ she explains.
‘When I finally hit “enter” on my registration, my goal wasn’t necessarily to win. I rather wanted to see how far I could go and what I would discover about myself along the way. On our very first day, it felt as though I had dived into the deep end. I immediately started exploring things outside of my comfort zone and meeting women who wanted the same things out of life as I did. It was a phenomenal experience.’
She follows in the deep footsteps of a long line of powerful Mrs South Africa Queens, having been bestowed her mantle by former queen, Palesa Matjekane.
‘I want to build on what Palesa, Jo Judnick-Wilson and all the queens who have come before me have built. And so, my goal for the coming year can be summed up in one powerful word: success. More specifically, the successes of women,’ Tshego says.
Strength in sisterhood
Growing up with three older sisters, Tshego was exposed to the importance of sisterhood early on. However, Dallmayr Mrs South Africa took that concept to a whole different level, she notes.
‘To me, sisterhood is intentionally playing a key role in helping other women achieve success, whatever that might be for them. Mrs South Africa brought that idea to life and I want to carry that sense of support, love and devotion on to the next class of contestants.’
Mrs South Africa CEO, Joani Johnson, adds: ‘If you’re about to embark on this journey yourself, the key thing to remember is that you won’t be walking this road alone. On either side of you will be like-minded women who want to see you succeed as much as you would want the same for them and yourself.
‘The Mrs South Africa programme, often called an “MBA of Life”, aims to promote positive change while empowering women to be the best that they can be. The sisterhood naturally formed from this mission statement and every year becomes a vital tool for some 100 women who embark on the journey with us.’
The Mrs South Africa sisterhood acts as a network for contestants to support and learn from each other. It celebrates the successes of these women both, during and after the pageant, when many go on to compete on the world stage, launch their own businesses or NGOs, or continue their studies. Whenever a Mrs South Africa alumna needs help in achieving one of their goals, the sisterhood is there to assist.
Giving hope to those in need
The Dallamyr Mrs South Africa programme is as much a charitable endeavour as it is a pageant and a female development programme – which was a big draw for Tshego.
‘I used to work in a children’s court in Thembisa and a family court in Johannesburg. The number of domestic violence cases I saw instilled in me a profound sense of urgency to help women, men, and children who are affected by domestic violence, and to raise awareness among everyday people to be a part of positive change in our society.’
Tshego intends to use her position as reigning queen to do just this. In 2023, she began by supporting and raising awareness of the Family Protection Association (FAMPRO) organisation, which deals with victims of domestic violence.
She also made great strides in her own NGO, We are our Children’s Keeper, which collects funds to provide school children in need with basic items such as school shoes, uniforms, stationery and accessories. She hopes to bring attention to these and other organisations throughout 2024 and beyond.
As for women who want to be part of the Dallmayr Mrs South Africa Class of 2024 and experience the sisterhood, discover themselves and do good in the world, Tshego has a few encouraging words:
‘The one thing I learned from this experience is to remain authentic; stay true to yourself. Your authenticity is your superpower. Trust the journey. Trust the path you’re on and know that what’s meant for you will come to you. And if you feel overwhelmed or lost, as we all sometimes do, the Mrs South Africa team and your sisters will be there to help you through.’ Dallmayr Mrs South Africa 2024 is shaping up to be another massive success thanks in large part to incredible sponsors such as Brentoni Eyewear, BTL Aesthetics, Caribbean Tan, Chery Krugersdorp, Collagen Lift Paris, Hirsch’s Homestore, Kryolan Professional Makeup, Lashout, Maskscara, iME, MSC Cruises, PKF Octagon, PR Worx, Slimz, Truewood Furniture, Urbantrend, Whirlpool, and Wild Africa Cream