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Basetsana Kumalo
Basetsana Julia Makgalemele

(1974-03-29) 29 March 1974 (age 49)
Soweto, South Africa
Title Miss South Africa 1994
Romeo Kumalo
(m. 2000)
Children 3
Beauty pageant titleholder
Hair color Black
Eye color Brown
Miss World 1994
(1st runner-up)

Basetsana Julia "Bassie" Kumalo (née Makgalemele; born 29 March 1974) is a South African television personality, beauty pageant titleholder, businesswoman, and philanthropist. Her career began in 1990 when she was crowned Miss Soweto and Miss Black South Africa at the age of 16. She was crowned Miss South Africa in 1994 and in the same year became the first runner-up in Miss World.

Early life

Kumalo was born in Soweto, South Africa. Her bus driver father, Philip Makgalemele, died in 2003 and her school teacher mother, Beatrice Makgalemele, died in 2006. She went to Thabisang Primary School. When the Soweto schools became unstable in 1986, Kumalo was sent to Trinity Secondary School in Lenasia.

She and her two sisters and brother spent their early years helping to keep the family afloat, making sandwiches to sell at soccer matches every weekend.

Personal life

Before and during her reign as Miss South Africa, Kumalo dated boxer Dingaan Thobela.

She 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. In 2005 Kumalo gave birth to their first child, a boy named Nkosinathi Gabriel. A second son, uShaka Kgositsile Emmanuel, was born in 2012.



During 1990 and 1991, Kumalo was crowned Miss Soweto at the age of 16. Kumalo left school planning to follow in her mother's footsteps as a teacher, but it was while before she was enrolled at the University of Venda to study education. Her mother entered her into Miss South Africa pageant that Kumalo went on to win.


While the reigning Miss South Africa, she started presenting the lifestyle television programme Top Billing. Kumalo formed a partnership with the show's producer, Patience Stevens. Tswelopele Productions was born with Kumalo owning a fifty-percent stake. The company is accredited by Impumelelo as one of South Africa's top 300 empowerment companies. The company's flagship brand is the Top Billing TV show, produced for SABC3. In 1999, Tswelopele merged with Union Alliance Media and listed on the JSE Securities Exchanged SA, making Kumalo one of the youngest black women directors to be part of the mainstream of the South African economy. In recent years, Top Billing's success has brought more projects to the Tswelopele brand, such as the Afrikaans magazine programme Pasella on SABC2 and the Swati youth show Seskohona on SABC1.

In 2001, Basetsane joined Gauteng Travel Academy as a director.

In 2016, she was guest judge in the final Miss South Africa 2016 beauty pageant, venue in the Carnival City´s Big Top Arena, Gauteng, South Africa. Transmitted by television networks M-Net and Mzansi Magic.


Kumalo is the President of the Business Women's Association of South Africa. In 2008, Kumalo became a new Tawana shareholder through a transaction with her investment company Pro Direct 189. She also sits on the boards of Unipalm Investment Holdings Vhangana Energy Resources, Tactic Group Limited, SME Financial Holdings Limited, Morongwa Investment Holdings, Seven Falls, Q2 Petroleum and PHAB Holdings.

Bassie brand

In 2000, Kumalo launched her own clothing range under the label Stature Ladies wear by Bassie, distributed by Ackerman’s department stores across 240 outlets throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. She has since discontinued the range.

In 2002, under the Bassie brand, Kumalo launched an eyewear range, distributed through Torga Optical (60 stores countrywide). She followed this by launching the Bassie Red cosmetics textrange into 100 Foschini stores nationwide, followed with the Bassie Gold range in 2006.


In 2004, Kumalo was voted 74th on the list of 100 Greatest South Africans in 2004, the only Miss South Africa in the list. In 2006, Cape Town Fashion Festival gave Kumalo the Fashion Icon Award. Femina Magazine nominated her as one of the top 10 most glamorous women in South Africa. In 2002 and 2003, she was voted by the Sunday Times and Elle Magazine in the TV Style Awards as the most stylish female magazine/entertainment show host. In 1994, she received an honorary scholarship for Overseas Studies from Nelson Mandela.

Kumalo is also the recipient of the Annual Rapport/City Press Prestige Awards.


In 2004, Kumalo contributed to the book Inspirational Women at Work, which focuses on the new face of leadership in the country. Kumalo features on Recipes from the Heart with 36 of South Africa's most-loved celebrities.

She is the editor-at-large of the Top Billing magazine. During her reign, Kumalo was Beauty Editor for DRUM magazine.


Kumalo had a stint on Metro FM, when she hosted the Breakfast show on 10 August 2006. After three hours behind the microphone, she said she was petrified.


Her exposure was further enhanced when she was chosen to be the face of Revlon Realistic Hair Care range for both Sub-Saharan Africa and the international market. She was a Revlon spokesperson for over five years. Kumalo briefly endorsed the BriteSmile procedure by appearing on their website.

Charity work

Kumalo and her husband Romeo have launched the Romeo & Basetsana Kumalo Family Foundation, which will develop children, specifically those orphaned by AIDS and other related diseases. Kumalo joined actress Salma Hayek in the bid to eradicate neonatal and maternal tetanus in the world, as spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund and nappy brand Pamper’s campaign to save more than 250 million infants by 2012.

In 2007, former first lady Graça Machel, a champion of the Each One Reach Five campaign, nominated Kumalo to be one of her five volunteers to take a public HIV test. She has also raised money for Baragwanath Children's Hospital with Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe. Kumalo volunteers with Agang Sechaba, a project that was started in 2007 by Nomsa Ntshingila, directed at giving back to the townships in which they were born.

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