‘Sa’ula strong’ means no more Steffi in M-Net’s Survivor SA

In trying to put four women in the final four, Steffi made herself a target and was left out in the cold by her former Amigos in Survivor SA: Island of Secrets.

Women power was first on Steffi’s mind. 

Fitness model and Survivor SA’s own Lara Croft had the title of Ultimate Survivor within her grasp, but her high hopes came crashing down during another riveting Tribal Council, and the beauty queen became the ninth member of this season’s jury.

The schemes of the original Sa’ula Amigos were at odds with a possible female final four last week, and it was Rob’s fourth individual immunity win that sealed the fate for Steffi in the penultimate episode of M-Net’s Survivor SA: Island of Secrets. It does seem as if Nicole was 100% dedicated to the idea of jumping ship on her alliance with Rob in favour of the female final four – but had to change plans when she realised King Rob was just too good at this game. Plus, having bonded over hot dogs, cold beer and soaring bats on the island of Manono as his guest after his reward challenge win, she was probably feeling generous by telling him about Steffi’s “betrayal”.

The moment when Rob’s world came crashing down.

Then there is yet another potential spanner in the works that the Island of Secrets has thrown into the mix: Tannie Laetitia’s vote-nullifying reward. Providing she keeps this to herself and manages to bring it into play effectively, she could potentially see herself going through to the final three! Not bad for a tannie in her fifties, practically on her last legs (if Rob were to be believed). At Tribal Council, it was quite refreshing to see the very vocal jury stunned into silence as they tried to make sense of what was happening when the votes were being tallied. A bitter Steffi picked up her bag and prepared to leave long before Nico announced her eviction – realising she had well and truly been outwitted.

In the two-hour-long grand finale this week, the final four will square off for the R1 million prize and the title of Ultimate Survivor. It’s going to be epic!

We caught up with Steffi after episode 17 aired to talk about those harsh words she had for her Amigos after being voted out and find out a bit more about her Survivor experience.

Juror number nine has some tough questions for Rob and Nicole.

Watching the show at home is challenging, because you have this perception of people [on the island], and then you see players saying things that you weren’t aware of. It’s disappointing, but at the end of the day it is a game. There aren’t any rules in this game; you take whatever comes your way and cope with it. It’s important to really look at yourself and not only other people, to look at the mistakes you made and where your character showed flaws, and just try to improve on that on a personal level.

When I got to Ponderosa, most of the jury members were surprised when they got to know the real me. That’s what people do – they categorise others on their first impressions. It’s a human flaw, I guess.

After being voted out I was obviously very emotional. I felt betrayed and humiliated, so it was emotion speaking. But on Ponderosa I got the opportunity to sit back and look at the whole “outwit, outplay and outlast” concept. Being on the jury, the ball is in your court and you have to choose a winner. You cannot allow emotion to dictate your vote – that is not what Survivor is all about.

People don’t realise that the jury is also still playing the game. They might seem very emotional and animated, with their back-chatting at Tribal Councils. These things trigger reactions in the players, which influence the game. Yes, they might be bitter, but as a player you don’t really know what’s behind it.

Gina’s visit on the Island of Secrets definitely changed my game completely. She made me realise that the lines of trust and alliance are blurred in this game, that the power factor was taken way too personally and people got their egos involved. I am happy about that, because I am confident Nicole would have betrayed me anyway; she wasn’t too fond of me. She was constantly in competition with me on the island, and with Seipei’s vote I started realising this. Some say Gina’s advice cost me the million, but it saved my life.

When I received my letter from home I almost completely broke down. I tried actively to compartmentalise my feelings and not think too much about missing my family. It’s not going to help the situation on the island. We lived through two cyclones, 14 days of non-stop rain – it was terrible. The rain was the worst for me out of all the elements. We had mosquitos and crabs, but that constant rain! I like rain, but then I need a dry bed at night, not a bamboo floor.

Nicole’s argument for voting with Rob because he is a “strong, courageous man who uplifts women” was clearly a line she could use to justify getting rid of me. She knew she was going to get flak from the jury for this and she knew people were going to be like, “What?” A female final four would have been a pivotal point in Survivor because it has never been done in South Africa; it would have been historic. I believe she felt that I initiated the female-four move and that I would have claimed credit for it. She definitely did it for herself; she admitted, “Steffi might just snatch it from all of us.”

In a game like Survivor, your best isn’t always good enough to guarantee a win. I feel proud of the game I played; I was relentless in all aspects and I did my best. The elements that you have to endure are out of your control. There’s only so much you can do, because ultimately people will make decisions that will benefit and suit them.

It is easy for viewers to misunderstand the relationships on the island. I do believe I will continue my friendship with Jacques; we felt comfortable to be open with each other. He is like a brother to me, so that is what happened in that confrontation before he left the island. I had to let him know how I felt about being disrespected and we sorted it out. He’s a great guy. He is one of the most honest people, I believe, who played the game, and a true student of the game. Seipei is also an awesome person, and I believe I will see her again.

My husband Clint [who stars in kykNET’s Binnelanders] het die fort gehou while I was away. My dogs managed to escape and were lost for two days. My dogs are my everything, and they ended up at the Midrand SPCA. Clint was very upset, because if something had happened to my dogs before I got back I would have freaked out. But at least they are all fine now.

I know some people might prefer to watch a lot of movies or TV when they come back from an experience like Survivor, but not me. I realised on the island that it’s the finer things in life that count. Being in nature, breathing fresh air, hiking or being in the gym is more my thing. It shifts your perception, this experience, for there is definitely a shift in priorities and values. But if there’s a good series I won’t say no to watching it! Just remember, there are only 24 hours in a day.

The explosive two-hour finale and live reunion show of Survivor SA will take place on Thursday, 12 September at 19:00. See more here.