by Jan-Hendrik Botha
After an epic battle in the mud, it’s evident that the stakes are higher than ever.
Palesa was the first to get injured during this week’s rollerball tribal immunity and reward challenge. Then Steffi was removed due to an injury – but the whole of South Africa gasped when Shona fell and got removed from the game.
Once Shona was removed, the castaways continued battling it out, and after nearly two hours, it was an emotional victory for Masu.
Relive the moment below:
Masu was sent off to enjoy their reward, and an emotional Meryl said to Nico: “We left our hearts in the mud, and our tears and sweat. We lost a member in the challenge. Besides giving birth, this was, I think, the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Danté also got emotional and said to Nico: “It’s been a long day.”
“Apart from hosting the show, I’m also a referee," says Nico. “This time around, one of the most important elements of my job is their safety. The last thing we want is someone being taken out by medics. You get voted out, and that’s the only way to leave or stay until the end, but you do not walk out, and you do not get taken out by the medics."
“You get voted out, and that’s the only way to leave.”
Dr Ferhan Khan, Survivor SA’s medical doctor, assessed Shona and deemed a chest x-ray necessary. Shona was administered a Voltaren injection after being pulled from the challenge and was transported to the nearest hospital in East London.
According to Shona, the game had become very real for her at that very moment. “Everything shifted the minute I heard that loud crack from my chest and the excruciating pain which ensued. Suddenly I was out of the game of Survivor, contemplating my actual survival.”
While in transit, Dr Khan checked her vitals, took her blood pressure and oxygen levels, and monitored her heart rate.
Meanwhile, Shona’s mind kept shifting between fearing permanent injury and missing out on crucial bonding time with the new tribe. “During the hour and a half trip to the hospital, I was trying to lay still on the stretcher, caked in mud, afraid to move or even breathe too deeply. All I wanted was to be okayed to play.”
According to Dr Khan, the x-ray determined that Shona didn’t sustain any fractures and that it was only an injury to her soft tissue. After receiving medication, she was determined to return to the game and cleared.
“The last time we had a medical evacuation was in the Maldives during season 4 when Vanessa Hayward sustained a neck injury during the challenge," says Nico. “It was absolutely frightening because the first thing you think is, will she be paralysed? She was pulled from the game but luckily returned.”
Relive the moment Shona returns to the game:
According to Nico, you can get injured in many ways regardless of where the game takes place. “Not only do people get hurt. They get dehydrated. Wherever we are, there’s always some form of danger. We try and minimise that as much as possible, but this is the game of Survivor.
“Our returning players are coming into this game with knowledge, where first-time players don’t have that,” says Nico. Due to returning players competing and R2 mil being at stake. The challenges are more physical, and the puzzles are much harder.
According to Nico, this challenge was possibly one of the toughest Survivor SA has ever seen. “The first time we did this challenge was back in Mozambique during season 3 in Santa Carolina, and it was just as tough back then. Those balls weigh 120 kg – and this is before water gets sucked into the wood, and the mud starts sticking to it.”
Though she returned to the game high-spirited, unfortunately, Shona was the sixth person to be voted out:
For Shona, it was a huge relief to re-enter the game. She was afraid she would miss out on valuable time to bond with the new tribe. “I’d chosen to stick with Yontau to help with the numbers, but would I get back in time to make a difference? And would people see me as a liability now that I was injured? This challenge was a test of my strength on all levels.
“As a superfan, all you want to do is get back out there and play.”
Images: Charlie Sperring and Peter Russell
Survivor SA: Return of the Outcasts broadcasts on M-Net every Monday to Thursday, with an omnibus on Saturdays from 15:30 to 19:30. Episodes are also available on DStv catch up. Join the conversation on the Survivor SA Facebook Page or on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #SurvivorSA.