Idols South Africa continues to prove it’s one of the biggest reality shows in the country with streams and streams of people tuning in every week as the search for the best undiscovered talent in the country continues. This week, after some heavy cuts in theatre week, the Top 16 of the show’s current 14th season were announced – and we’ve got a first look at the new batch of contestants who will be making it through to the live shows.

Thato Makape (23) – He must surely hold the record for the for the longest traveller to an Idols audition! Thato journeyed for a staggering 1250km from his hometown of Postmasburg in the Northern Cape to Cape Town. The young barber’s resolve was not in vain – he received his Golden Ticket from three of the judges and is now determined to go all the way for his mother, who is a cancer survivor.

Yanga Sobetwa (16) – Talk about a girl with a plan! Season 14’s youngest contestant stepped into the Cape Town audition room with the single-minded purpose of leaving with a Golden Ticket. Not only did she succeed in scooping a yes from all four judges, she had already arranged for long-distance studies with her school. Now that’s what we call levels!

Lincoln Lewis (22) – When a judge tells you that you’ve given them the best audition of the season so far, you know you are on to a good thing. The young man from Ravensmead on the Cape Flats has fought to get to this point and is not about to back out now.

Mthokozisi Nqcobo (20) – The UCT student from Umlazi in Durban loves music so much that he suffered from depression when he opted to study accounting over music for financial reasons. But the same music is his “healer” and helping him find his feet again. Receiving a unanimous yes from the judges has rightfully validated his passion.

Niyaaz Arendse (22) – The Ottery, Cape Town, homeboy is determined to connect with Randall, who has not been taken with him, especially as this is his fourth try on the show. He won’t give up on his dream because he is convinced that music is his life.

Nosipho Silinda (17) – This teenager from Ladysmith in KZN is all about the creative industry; she wants to build a school for the arts in future. For now, she must get through juggling Idols and her Grade 11 studies…oh, and work on her emotions like Somizi suggested.

Sandile Skosana (26) – Representing Tsakane in Ekurhuleni, Sandile knows the meaning of hard work. He’s already attempted a Masters, is a research scientist and is doing his post graduate certificate in Education. He is also the music director at his church and believes this is the right time for him on Idols.

Ntokozo Makhathini (18) – There must be something in the air in Witbank! Ntokozo comes from the same neighbourhood as previous winner Musa, and bowled over the judges during auditions, resulting in four yeses. She’s passionate about nature and tourism, but for now is taking a gap year to concentrate on Idols.

Mnqobi Dlamini (21) – He came all the way from Piet Retief in Mpumalanga to audition in Pretoria. A returnee who got his Golden Ticket during the “mass returnee audition”, his life is about gigs and trying to provide for his family.

Delene Swartz (21) – Unathi called her one of her favourites and couldn’t get enough of her voice. As a vocalist for a working band, it was no surprise when Somizi complimented her on being well prepared and “blessing” them with her voice. She comes from Ennerdale in Jozi.

Basimane Boys Melato aka King B (20) – Big in voice and big in personality, King B’s vosho is sure to become his trademark. The HR student from Kagiso says he is inspired by Miss Universe and is here to soar.

Thando Mngomezulu (19) – She epitomises the saying “dynamite comes in small packages”. However, her crippling lack of confidence has been a talking point among the judges from audition all the way to Top 16. The Media Studies student says she’s always wanted to be in the music business.

Lethabo Ramatsui aka Wattahmelon (18) – Hailing from Attridgeville in Pretoria, the sassy theatre student says she’s obsessed with fruits and loves watermelon especially. She attends the YIT Academy at the State Theatre, where she trains in drama, music and dance.

Zamagambu Memela aka Xae (18) – The Pinetown, Durban, teen is the first in the history of Idols to get a Golden Ticket autographed – by all the judges. And no, it doesn’t mean anything, but it’s still nice. She says winning Idols would make her dreams come true.

Victor Matalane (25) – Originally from River Cross, Limpopo, he auditioned in Johannesburg and was saved by Unathi during Theatre Week. He is a praise and worship singer.

Bongiwe Pearl Mdaka (23) – A boutique sales lady from Melelani in Mpumalanga, Bongiwe once had twelve fingers before she had the extras surgically removed. She prides herself on playing guitar well.

Idols SA season 14 is on Mzansi Magic, DStv Channel 161 on Sundays at 17h00.

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