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Survivor South Africa

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Celebrating with Santoni – Survivor SA 

09 July 2021
We had a laugh (and shed a few tears) with Santoni on her birthday.  
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Images: Charlie Sperring and Peter Russell

by Jan-Hendrik Botha

In this week’s episode of Survivor SA, Santoni celebrated her 39th birthday. According to her, taking part in Survivor SA before turning 40 was a bucket list item. But celebrating a birthday on a desert beach, not having her loved ones with her proved to be much harder than anticipated. 

Santoni says waking up, not only realising it was her birthday but knowing that she was another year older, “felt very weird”. “I already felt so self-conscious about my age in this game, knowing that I’m the eldest. But I missed my family too. Therefore, I decided to approach it like any other ordinary day.” 

What Santoni didn’t realise, though, was that this day particularly would be extraordinary. Waking up at Zamba the morning of her birthday, her fellow tribemates had a very special surprise. “I woke up, and the whole tribe told me that I had to stay in bed. Then, they started singing for me and gave me a tray.”

She says being woken up like that was very special. “On the tray was pap in a coconut shell. It was beautifully decorated with flowers, but that was that!  

“I never had a spoon, and always have to eat with my hands ...but this day someone gave me their mussel shell to eat with – I mean, that’s the kind of luxury you get on Survivor SA,” she reveals. 

“I think Shaun was behind it, and it was such a beautiful gesture – he’s such a caring guy.” 

The night before, Carla was sent home due to a blindside orchestrated by Santoni. “I knew Wardah was moerse mad at me for voting out Carla, and I found out from her that Carla had made me a necklace for my birthday, but that she left with it.” 

What Santoni didn’t tell anyone was that she was feeling quite emotional. “I missed my parents because ever since I was born, they’ve celebrated my birthday with me, and it was very strange not having them there. But the one person I would have loved to have with me was my partner, Bonita. I missed her so much! She really is my everything...” 

Santoni has a fear of water. And ironically, on the day of her birthday, she had to partake in Aquaman: a Reward Challenge that would challenge Santoni to the extreme. “Whenever I realise I might struggle with a challenge, I always hope Nico says someone can sit out. But this time around, everyone had to swim.

“First, Anela got swept away by the current and the wind. Then I jumped in and tried my best, but all of a sudden, everything froze. I was convinced I was going to drown – but then Chappies came and helped me after he already had saved Anela.” 

Reaching the shore, Santoni crawled up the platform and immediately burst into tears. “I was so emotional just because of what Chappies had just done for me. It wasn’t because we might lose the food or that it was my birthday, but because I was so overwhelmed to see the care and what Chappies was prepared to do ...it moved me, making it a birthday I will never forget.” 

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Though this colourful, karma-loving redhead from Strand is horoscope-driven, she’s still very unsure about her future in the game. “My knowledge of astrology is based on data I’ve gathered over the years, cross-referenced with insight taken from people that I’ve met.   

“For instance, I have found that Tauruses like smelling good, but they are incredibly stubborn, and they don’t like losing an argument.  

“One thing’s for sure, though: I’ve realised on Survivor SA that my astrological data isn’t sufficient enough for the kind of psychopaths you find on this show.” 

Watch below how Santoni got spoilt with a birthday breakfast of champions – in true Survivor fashion:

What’s written in this Scorpio’s stars? Watch Survivor SA: Immunity Island on M-Net (DStv channel 101), every Thursday at 19:30 to find out. Use the hashtag #SurvivorSA on Twitter, Instagram or the Survivor Facebook Page to join the conversation.