A beaming Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, was photographed working with children at the Ikageng community centre soup drive on 5 July in Soweto, Johannesburg.
It was supposed to be a feel-good charity event, but she ended up fending off accusations of racism for wearing gloves while interacting with black children. Others came to her defence and pointed out that volunteer workers of all races were also wearing gloves during the event.
Nel-Peters, who is mixed-race, posted a video in response to defend herself by saying she and other volunteers wore disposable gloves for food handling hygiene.
"All the volunteers on site wore gloves today because we honestly thought that it's the right thing to do while working with food and while handing out food to young kids," Nel-Peters said, also apologising to those who were offended.
The Miss South Africa organisation pointed out that Nel-Peters didn't wear the gloves throughout the event.
The beauty pageant's license holder Sun International said "It is standard hygiene practice that ready-to-eat food be prepared and served without bare hand contact."
Ikageng director Carol Dyantyi was disappointed that the gloves issue distracted from the successful event. "It was such a successful day and I am sorry that the focus is now on the gloves rather than the positive impact it had. The story behind one of the pictures is fantastic.
"An eight-year-old deaf girl wanted to teach Demi-Leigh how to say 'thank you' in sign language while Demi was still involved in food preparation. Demi was only too happy to pose for a picture. For us who were there, it was such a moving moment," Dyantyi said, according to Huffington Post SA.