Twenty Castaways from across South Africa have been brought together in a Survivor South Africa first – the chance to compete to be the ‘Sole Survivor’ on South African soil for the first time in the series’ eight-season history, with the forthcoming Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island.
Having spent the better part of a year in isolation under COVID-19-related lockdowns already, the group of 20 castaways were transported far from their homes and into true isolation on the Eastern Cape’s stunningly-beautiful Wild Coast, where they attempted to Outwit, Outplay and Outlast each other over 39 days for R1 million and the coveted title.
Jan du Plessis, Channel Director for M-Net Channels, says that the series is shaping up to be the best-ever in Survivor South Africa history. “The castaways this season proved that they will stop at nothing to emerge victorious – it’s the most cut-throat, ambitious and engrossing season of the game we’ve seen, contested by a group of true super fans”.
Creative producer & series director Afrokaans’ Leroux Botha says the first-ever local setting for Survivor South Africa has taken this season up another notch. “When the castaways discovered they were going to be playing the game in a location closer to home than usual, some of them thought they could take a degree of familiarity for granted – but they soon find out that whether they’re on the beautiful Wild Coast or on an island on the other side of the planet, Survivor always throws up tests, twists and challenges they couldn’t possible foresee,” he says.
Here are the 20 Castaways who will kick off Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) at 19:30 on Thursday 3 June:
Corporate lawyer Amy Eliason (33) says her favourite drink – red wine - also led to her submitting an entry for this season of the show. “I was at a braai and the advertisement for Survivor came on TV and with my red wine-stained lips and teeth I proclaimed ‘I can do that!’,” she says. “I then proceeded to film my messy audition video, which somehow got me selected!”
25 year-old maths educator and rugby coach Anela Majozi – originally from Durban but now calling Johannesburg home – describes himself as ‘a typical Gemini’. “I’m simple yet also elaborate, deliberate and measured in my approach - and somehow also very careless at times,” he says.
Johannesburg’s Anesu Mbizvo (29) describes herself as ‘a natural leader, healer, earth lover and avid dreamer’. The medical doctor, yoga teacher and small business owner says of entering: “I am constantly searching for ways to grow and evolve and I wanted to enter Survivor so that I could find out who I would be when everything was stripped away and I was pushed to my limits”.
Carla Gubb (29), a corporate sales executive and entrepreneur from Cape Town, says that having watched every season of Survivor that has aired over the past 20 years, she still believes you can never be prepared. “The game is so different every season and every player is unique, which makes it impossible to predict what is going to happen, or how to play,” she says.
Francois Chapman – ‘Chappies’ to his friends and fellow castaways – is 32 and calls Centurion home. He describes himself as an optimist by nature, who loves life and strives to make a positive impact in others’ lives by living his life to the fullest. “Swim upstream or don’t swim at all,” is his motto. Chappies says there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to win the game. “No hard feelings, just a hard game,” he says.
30 year-old Johannesburg-based live escape game owner Dino Paulo says his greatest strength is being able to laugh at himself, or throughout a tough situation, which has helped him demonstrate resilience. “Being easy-going and highly adaptable should have its advantages too,” he says.
The first thing structural engineering draughtsman Jason Brookstein (27) packed into his bag for the game, were his hair elastics – odd, then, that he says one of his greatest weaknesses is ‘barber shops’. Citing Joe Anglim, Ozzy Lusth and Sarah Lacina as his favourite-ever Survivor players, he says his strategy going into the game is to spot vulnerability and use it to his advantage, while networking and having options to move in the game.
Durban-born strategy consultant Kiran Naidoo (29) absolutely adores competition. “Playing ‘for fun’ is quite literally the most annoying concept in the world,” he says. “I am exceptionally curious about the world around me and the motivations behind why people do what they do. Lastly, I’m super sarcastic and quick-witted, if you don’t pick it up you may think I’m mean… shame”.
‘Boervrou and guest house owner’ Marisha du Plessis (35, from Tulbagh) describes herself as ‘outgoing, strong and very driven’ – and hates being told she cannot or may not do something. While her greatest weakness is not being able to hide her true self, she says her strengths are how good she is with people, relationships, and the way she never gives up.
Originally from Johannesburg, Cape Town-based lawyer Mike Laws (32) calls himself ‘a classic city slicker’. “I’m a corporate law geek with anxiety issues, strong opinions and a big heart”. He entered this season ‘to see if a neurotic, city-slicker, white-collar geek could crack it in the wild’ and prepared by learning to tie knots – though declares himself ‘useless’ at it.
“I think I was born to be on Survivor - I love the thrill of the game and how it challenges you in every possible way imaginable,” says Stellenbosch-born digital marketing manager Nicole Wilmans (26). “I am a passionate and enthusiastic woman. A go-getter and always up for a challenge,” she says. Having packed her bikini first – adamant she was going to get that ‘Survivor glow’ – Nicole says she feels like she’d been preparing her whole life for the game.
Freelancer Noleen Nkanjeni (30), better known as Pinty, loves learning how to do new things and to go beyond her limits. “That’s why I like to think of myself as a ‘Janet of all trades’ who knows a little more than just a little about many different things,” says Pinty. “Meeting new people and having meaningful, honest interactions is one of my favourite things”.
Describing himself as ‘single / very single’, Paul Cupido (29) is an aftercare teacher, who thinks of himself as ‘a kind and loving person, with a spontaneously positive outlook on life’. “I’m someone who’s always up for a challenge – spiritually, mentally and physically and someone who often puts others before himself,” he says. He entered Survivor SA because he wanted to be part of a social experiment, but also because he was craving a new adventure and a bit of excitement in his life.
‘Funemployed’, Taiwan-born, Qieän Wang (35) - pronounced ‘Key-hahn’ - loves having the freedom to explore nature and be immersed in it. She describes herself as ‘highly empathetic, kind and fiercely loyal’ – something for which she says she is often taken for granted, for. “Expect some tears. I’m definitely am not one who is afraid to show her vulnerability! Hopefully the viewers will recognize me for my kind, nurturing nature and not mistaken it for someone who is not aggressive,” she says.
“I’ve been playing the hypothetical game in my head for the past five years, discussing it and breaking it down with my wife and having loads of fun doing so,” says chemical engineer Renier Louwrens (30, from Secunda) of his preparations to play the game. “My wife and I have watched every season of Survivor out there. It’s my dream to be able to play the game I’ve grown so fond of over the past 20 years,” he says.
It’s a case of ‘fourth time’s the charm’ for online business owner Santoni Engelbrecht (39, from Strand), as she finally got her wish of becoming a Survivor SA castaway after three previous attempts. “I love the dynamics of the show and always wanted to enter. I’m such a ‘non-Survivor-looking person’ and I wanted to show people that anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” she says.
Norwich-born, Jo’burg-bred and now Capetonian Shaun Wilson (40) is an IT entrepreneur – a ’geek who has an affinity for adventure and the biggest soft spot for dogs’. His preparation for Survivor SA was non-existent. “Lockdown hit and I perfected my baking skills, spending time with my dogs and improving my KD rate on Apex Legends,” he says.
PE-born marketing officer Thoriso M-Afrika (36) describes herself as ‘the eternal optimist, fiercely loyal and a colourful character who lives in my own world’. “I’ll stand out as an anomaly on the show because I wouldn’t be caught dead camping, am a creature of comfort and would probably die if I ever did something like this alone,” she says.
“I'm a super creative, a jack of all trades and a perfectionist to a fault. I love animals more than people,” says Durban-born creative director and entrepreneur Tyson Zulu (24). “10/10 times I'll always speak my mind and do what I feel”. He entered Survivor SA as a learning experience. “I want to be a big player in the Film & TV industry and learning, first-hand, from the biggest show in the country is a massive opportunity,” he says.
“I officially celebrate four decades on the planet this year, and I have learnt plenty about myself and about how human beings behave,” says yoga instructor and fitness professional Wardah Hartley (39). After having been a journalist for 20 years, she developed the ability to quickly connect and build trust with virtually anyone she meets. “I wanted to put myself in an environment where I could put all of these valuable life lessons to the test – Survivor SA is my Masterclass”.
Survivor South Africa: Immunity Island was filmed on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape, in partnership with the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC). The 8th season of the show is once more hosted by Nico Panagio and will premiere on M-Net (DStv Channel 101) on Thursday 3 June at 19:30. For more, visit www.mnet.co.za or follow M-Net’s social media channels.