On August 26, an emotional and joyous occasion unfolded as George Stegmann, the dealer principal of Group 1 Renault The Glen, handed over the keys of a brand-new Renault Kiger to Mel Tlhapi. Notably, Tlhapi emerged as the first recipient of the Mrs Soweto Female Empowerment Programme, marking a historic milestone.
This noteworthy event transpired a few weeks after Tlhapi (38) secured the coveted title of Mrs. Soweto during a captivating event held at the Soweto Theatre on August 12. Hailing from Mofolo Central in Soweto, Tlhapi’s triumph earned her the honour of driving the Renault Kiger throughout her year-long reign.
Speaking enthusiastically, Stegmann highlighted the symbiotic partnership, underscoring the company’s commitment to initiatives that uplift and empower women. He affirmed, “Empowering women is a cause that resonates deeply with us, and we believe this partnership will contribute significantly to fostering positive change and opportunities for women in Soweto.”
The journey towards claiming the Mrs Soweto crown encompassed more than attaining a title; it encapsulated personal growth and empowerment. Spanning five months, the female empowerment program ushered finalists through a transformative experience. Participants acquired valuable skills and insights, each receiving a certificate of completion during the handover event hosted by Group 1 Renault The Glen as a testament to their successful journey.
A Star-Studded Celebration
The grand finale of the Mrs. Soweto event at Soweto Theatre radiated glamour, bringing together celebrities, Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMCs), and esteemed judges. The judging panel featured distinguished personalities like singers Lloyd Cele and Judith Sephuma, Miss Soweto 2021 Ludina Ngwenya, and Mrs South Africa 2022 Jo Judnick-Wilson.
The event offered a platform to showcase the growth and transformation of the finalists. Hosted by Refiloe Motsei from Jozi FM and TV personality Thapelo Motloung, the evening’s suspense reached its zenith with the announcement of the inaugural Mrs. Soweto recipient. The joy was palpable as Tlhapi’s name resonated with cheers and applause, epitomising the program’s ethos and aspirations. The titles of the first and second princesses were awarded to Fatima Moyane and Petunia Malingisa, respectively.
A Catalyst for Empowerment and Change
Launched in March by local entrepreneurs, founder and CEO Dr Tshegofatso Mathe from Aspen Hills, and co-director Tandi Potgieter from Eye of Africa, the Mrs Soweto Female Empowerment Programme garnered attention for its commitment to empowering women and making a tangible community impact. Beyond bestowing the Mrs. Soweto title, the program recognised outstanding finalists through special awards, championing excellence, compassion, and leadership.
In addition to the tiara worn by the first Mrs Soweto at formal events, Signa Trust contributed a significant sponsorship by offering a three-year university bursary, complete with accommodation, a stipend, and a computer for a beneficiary of Tlhapi’s choice.
The success of the empowerment program was fueled by a collective of sponsors and partners who shared the vision, from Group 1 Renault The Glen to Jenna Clifford, DC. One, and numerous others, their contributions amplified the program’s reach and impact.
A Ripple of Benevolence
The ripple effects of the Mrs Soweto Female Empowerment Programme extend beyond personal empowerment, embracing social responsibility. Proceeds from the program support the Baby Thabo Thsepo Mathe Cares Foundation, providing care packages to mothers in need, particularly those with infants requiring surgical care. This multi-faceted commitment enhances the significance of the Mrs. Soweto initiative, solidifying its legacy as a beacon of empowerment, change, and community upliftment.
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Photo: Supplied by Comaro Chronicle