Basetsana Kumalo Biography: Early Life and Education | Pageantry | TV Career | Personal Life | Philanthropy | Controversies
Basetsana Kumalo is a South African television personality, beauty pageant titleholder, businesswoman, and philanthropist. She is best known for winning Miss South Africa in 1994 and becoming the first runner-up in Miss World in the same year.
Basetsana Kumalo Early Life and Education
Basetsana Julia “Bassie” Kumalo (née Makgalemele) was born on 29 March 1974 in Soweto, South Africa. She is the daughter of Philip Makgalemele, a bus driver, and Beatrice Makgalemele, a schoolteacher. She has two sisters and a brother. Bassie grew up helping her family by making sandwiches to sell at soccer matches every weekend.
Basetsana attended Thabisang Primary School in Orlando West, Soweto. When Soweto was engulfed by student unrest in 1986, she was sent to Trinity Secondary School in Lenasia, where she completed her matric. She then enrolled at the University of Venda, where she majored in education. Bassie also studied at Damelin College.
Pageantry and TV Career
Basetsana’s career began in 1990 when she was crowned Miss Soweto and Miss Black South Africa at the age of 16. She entered the Miss South Africa pageant in 1994 and won the title, becoming the second black woman to do so after Jacqui Mofokeng in 1993. In the same year, she also became the first runner-up in Miss World, which was held in Sun City, South Africa.
While reigning as Miss South Africa, Bassie started presenting the lifestyle television programme Top Billing on SABC3. She formed a partnership with the show’s producer, Patience Stevens, and co-founded Tswelopele Productions, a company that produces Top Billing and other shows.
Basetsana owns a 50% stake in the company, which is accredited by Impumelelo as one of South Africa’s top 300 empowerment companies. In 1999, Tswelopele merged with Union Alliance Media and listed on the JSE Securities Exchange SA, making Bassie one of the youngest black women directors to be part of the mainstream of the South African economy.
Basetsana Kumalo Personal Life and Philanthropy
Basetsana met her husband Romeo Kumalo, a Vodacom executive and former broadcaster when she was crowned Miss Soweto. They started dating in 1997 and married in 2000. They have three children: Nkosinathi Gabriel (born in 2005), uShaka Kgositsile Emmanuel (born in 2012), and Bontle ba Morena Jasmine (born in 2014).
Basetsana and her husband Romeo have launched the Romeo & Basetsana Kumalo Family Foundation, which aims to develop children orphaned by AIDS and other related diseases. In 2009, the foundation received the Inyathelo Philanthropy Merit Award.
Bassie also joined actress Salma Hayek in the bid to eradicate neonatal and maternal tetanus in the world as a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund and nappy brand Pamper’s campaign to save more than 250 million infants by 2012.
In 2018, Basetsana and her husband were involved in a defamation case against author Jackie Phamotse, who tweeted about an alleged s_x tape involving a female TV mogul and her husband rimming a celebrity boy. Although Phamotse did not name the Kumalos, they claimed that she intended to harm their reputation and took her to court.
In September 2023, Phamotse was found guilty of crimen injuria, criminal defamation and contempt of court by the Randburg Magistrates’ Court. Kumalo expressed her relief and joy at the outcome, saying that it was a victory for every person who had been cyberbullied.
- ‘Reflection, healing, and recovery’: Basetsana and Romeo Kumalo open up about legal ‘ordeal’ – News24
- Bruce Whitfield interviews Basetsana Kumalo about her attitude to money (hopes and fears, successes and failures, etc.). – 7025
- Basetsana Kumalo – Pageant Planet
- Bassie’s Heart: Philanthropy and Charity Work – Basetsana Kumalo
- Why court found Jackie Phamotse guilty of defamation – Sunday World