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Basetsana Kumalo

Basetsana Kumalo










Who Is Basetsana Kumalo

Basetsana was born in Soweto, South Africa. Raised by her late father was a bus driver, Philip Makgalemele, and her late mother, was a school teacher, Beatrice Makgalemele. In 1986 the Soweto schools became unstable, and Basetsana was sent to Trinity Secondary School in Lenasia. She grew up at a time when Soweto was relatively unstable, which further compounded her challenges, but despite all the odds against her, Basetsana Kumalo still made it.

As a South African beauty queen, at the tender age of 16 winning Miss Black South Africa and Miss Soweto. When Basetsana turned 20 she entered and won Miss South Africa 1994 and in the same year went on and became the 1st runner up at Miss World. A fierce competitor, winning these pageant titles was only the beginning of Basetsana’s love story with the South African public. She spent her reign as Miss South Africa raising fund for various organizations and charities, but also using this time to network with as many influential local and international people as she good, showing that drive and resilience that she would later portrait in her entrepreneurial career. 

A devoted Christian, Basetsana received a special award from Operation Hunger, the Cancer Association of South Africa and the RDP (Reconstruction and Development Programme). She has also played a key role in Child-line, Take a Girl Child to Work and Reach for a Dream. Living up to her motto, Basetsana and her husband Romeo have established the ROMEO AND BASETSANA KUMALO FAMILY FOUNDATION. The purpose of the foundation is to support orphaned children, especially those who have lost their parents to the H.I.Virus and AIDS related illnesses. In 2009 the foundation received the Inyathelo Philanthropy Merit Award.

When asked why they continue to be involved in a myriad of philanthropic causes and spokes people for various charitable causes Basetsana’s response was “We are passionate about helping those in need, but mostly we’re inspired by children. There is so much need in South Africa and we want to make a tangible and sustainable difference”. The couple were acknowledged for their extensive contribution to helping individuals and communities, particularly for their work with children in Gauteng. Romeo and Basetsana continue to give of themselves to various causes in order to do what they can to make South Africa a better place to live in.

Basetsana got the idea to pitch to make Top Billing an independent production, instead of being produced by SABC 3. She approached the then CEO of SABC, Zwelake Sisulu with her idea. Basetsana ended up successfully negotiated a six month contract to produce Top Billing under her own production company: Tswelopele Productions!  

A tough learning curve would then follow as Basetsana and her team no-longer had the budget of the SABC to produce the show and had to cover all the expenses associated with producing a show like Top Billing, from staff to organizing their own sets. A challenge that Basetsana was more than up too as Top billing is still one of SABC’s top performing shows.

4 years later Union Alliance Media merged with Tswelopele Productions, earning the company a JSE listing effectively making Basetsana Kumalo the youngest black woman director to be a part of mainstream business in the South African economy.

With Top Billing a successful venture Basetsana turned her sites on other opportunities

In 2000, Basetsana launched her clothing line, Stature Ladies wear by Bassie. Two years later, she launched an eye-wear line and a cosmetics line. She launched another beauty venture in 2006. 


2005 - Current

2001 - Current

1997 - Current

1996 - Current

1995 - 2011

2004 - 2017

2007 - 2013

Director at Uzalile Investments

A woman-owned and listed coal mining company

Non-Executive Director at Tawana Resources

A diamond mining company

Director at Travel with Flair

A travel management company

Executive Chairperson at Tswelopele Productions

A television production company

Executive Chairman at Tswelopele Productions

Chairperson at PHAB Property Holdings

A property holdings company

Director at Leungo Investment Holdings


Bassie My Journey of Hope

Bassie: My Journey of Hope

Basetsana Kumalo (née Makgalemele) shot to fame as a fresh-faced Miss South Africa in 1994 and soon became the face of South Africa’s new democracy. As the first black presenter of the glamorous lifestyle TV show Top Billing, she travelled the world and interviewed superstars like Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jackson, Jon Bon Jovi, Will Smith, the Bee Gees, Gloria Estefan and Luther Vandross. After a successful career in television, Bassie’s drive and ambition took her into the world of business.


The street savvy that her entrepreneurial mother gave her stood her in good stead as she built a media empire. When she married the handsome businessman Romeo Kumalo in a fairytale wedding, they became South Africa’s sweethearts and ‘it’ couple. Bassie – My Journey of Hope recounts the stories of Bassie’s life as a celebrity, including her relationships with mentors like Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Graça Machel.


She also shares the secrets of her success and all the lessons she’s learnt along the way, and opens up about the pressures of her high-profile marriage to Romeo, their heartbreaking struggle to have a family, and how they made sure that their loving and respectful union has lasted two decades. Bassie also talks frankly about the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of boxer Dingaan Thobela and the legal battles she had to fight to protect her name and her brand over the years. She gives her account of the stalker who harassed her for decades, and the non-existent ‘sex-tape’ allegation that rocked her family and career, leading to painful experiences of cyber-bullying. It is an intimate, inspiring and entertaining account of a remarkable life.

Media Room

Achievements and Accolades

2021 Iconic Award by Tastic Rice

2011 Honoured as a Young Global Leader issued by World Economic Forum

2009 Inyathelo Philanthropy Merit Award

2008 Listed as one of the top personal brands issued by Sunday Times Top Brands Surve

2006 Fashion Icon Award

2004 Voted 74th on the list of 100 Greatest South Africans

2004 The Annual Rapport/City Press Prestige Award 

2004 Named in the top 10 most glamorous women in South Africa 

2002 and 2003 Voted by the Sunday Times and Elle Magazine in the TV Style Awards as the most stylish female magazine / entertainment show host.

1994 First-runner up in the Miss World Pageant

1994 Winner of Miss South Africa

1994 Honorary scholarship for Overseas Studies from Nelson Mandela

Brand Ambassador for numerous South African Corporates and blue chip companies

Former President issued by Business Women's Association of South Africa

The recipient of the Annual Rapport/City Press Prestige Awards


“You are one of our young women pioneers who blossomed with democracy in South Africa, your influence nurtured the whole continent. You have build confidence to African women and gave us hope that we can succeed despite the circumstances we have of triple oppression. Be the light you are to our young and old women of Africa.” 

- Tintswalo Makhubele General Secretary SACONO South African Congress of Nonprofit Organizations -

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