The brand-new season of Survivor South Africa premieres this week and ahead of the show’s highly-anticipated premiere, we’ve got an inside look at the castaways heading out to the islands of Samoa for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. This time, the show’s producers are switching things up by having three tribes from the get-go.

In Samoan the word Sa’ula means “Swordfish” and symbolically represents courage, virtue and strength. Swordfish are also proud, energetic fighters. All these descriptors ring true for the members of this Survivor SA tribe, which happens to include four very different, powerful “queens” as well as some serious six-packs.

The seven castaways in the Sa’ula tribe are:

Lee-Anne van Renen
Age: 33
Occupation: Life coach, Mrs Cape Town 2018
From: Durbanville, Cape Town
What you need to know about her:
Mother of two, Lee-Anne van Renen, interrupted her duties as reigning Mrs Cape Town 2018 to prove her resilience on Survivor SA and tear up stereotypical beauty queen labels. She’s married to the bassist of the band Taxi Violence, holds an honours degree in Psychology, obtained five distinctions in matric, captained the KZN action netball team, counsels drug addicts and traumatised teens, and has survived several personal tragedies, including a cancer scare and double miscarriage. Even though she may come across as sweet and kind-hearted – and she is – she has a spirit of steel. A mere month after the trauma of losing her twins, she completed the 947 cycle race. Lee-Anne pours her heart into NGOs to make a difference and says she entered Survivor SA not only to win, “but also to step into the shoes of those who have absolutely nothing; no bed, no food, no warmth, no shelter”.

Nicole Capper
Age: 34
Occupation: Ex Mrs SA, Events company and luxury online magazine owner
From: Fourways, Johannesburg
What you need to know about her:
Nicole is a perfect example of confidence and grace. Her journey towards courage and living out of her comfort zone started three years ago, when her baby girl was diagnosed with a rare and life limiting genetic disease. That’s when this qualified pharmacist decided to come out of her shell, break through her insecurities and live with the philosophy that anything is possible. So, she entered Mrs South Africa 2017 – an won. Thereafter, Nicole set her goals higher and higher, embarking on all kinds of epic adventures to raise funds and awareness for social causes close to her heart. She even went to the summit of Kilimanjaro and is expanding her circle of influence with modelling, motivational speaking and being the ambassador for Rare Diseases SA. The divorced mother of two also founded Inside Out, an organisation that connects the youth with their heroes in sport and business.

Steffi Brink (née van Wyk)
Age: 27
Occupation: Fitness model
From: Glen Austin, Midrand
What you need to know about her:
Survivor SA’s own Lara Croft, Steffi is a fitness model, all-rounded athlete and entrepreneur who represented her country of birth Namibia at the 2015 Miss Universe pageant and participated in the Miss World Sport 2015. Steffi, who grew up on a farm, knows that you can only reach your full potential when you work hard and persevere through any kind of adversity. When you ask Steffi to describe herself, it’s clear as daylight that she’s not your typical beauty queen. “I am a jock and I am used to winning. I am tough and I will fight until the bitter end. Second place is just first place for the losers.” Steffi is married to heartthrob actor Clint Brink from Binnelanders and admits that she usually gels better with guys than girls. She also lives by a strong moral compass and believes that the truth will always come to light.

Sepei Mashugane
Age: 40
Occupation: Entrepreneur and Biker Queen
From: Soweto
What you need to know about her:
Nobody wants to mess with entrepreneur and “Biker Queen” Sepei. The strong, no-nonsense single mother has built a life for herself and her two children through grit and determination, after deciding that she wants them to have access to the absolute best education. If she puts her mind to something, consider it done. And, as she admits herself, it’s always her way or the highway. When she is not the driving force behind one of several business ventures, she revs it up on her Harley Davidson motorcycle on road trips across the country. As mobility, independence and emancipation are extremely important to Sepei, she also teaches women that biking holds a key to freedom. This iron lady has won several road challenges on her smokin’ two-wheel chariot, but will she also lead the pack on the Survivor SA island?

Nathan Castle
Age: 25
Occupation: Media Producer
From: Milnerton, Cape Town
What you need to know about him:
Don’t be fooled by Nathan’s sculpted, tattooed body and flirty smile. He is a highly competitive young man who graduated with a law degree from the University of the Western Cape and he loves playing games that require mental and physical strength. This part-time personal trainer who recently became a partner at a Post Production Facility in Cape Town, is also a sharp strategic thinker and a pro at playing mind games. He also holds Western Province colours in chess! Even though this confident, sociable all-rounder is ready to use his looks to advance his game, he acknowledges that his competitiveness sometimes comes with a bit of a temper – and that can be a risky combination.

Robert Bentele
Age: 28
Occupation: Events Videographer
From: Richards Bay
What you need to know about him:
Robert Bentele is the drop-dead gorgeous exotic Trevor Noah lookalike on the show. His dad is Austrian and his mother is Zulu. And even though he grew up mainly in the Zulu culture, he embraces and celebrates his unique identity. He has been a bodybuilder and MMA fighter and has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, but for him “everything is about the energy”. He is into Zen, meditation, peace, balance and spiritual enlightenment. Before he outwits, outplays and outlasts, his game strategy is to out charm his teammates and rivals alike. “I’m a chameleon, I can be anything you want me to be,” Robert says. But is it possible to stay this cool and collected while others are aiming daggers at your back?

Paul Smulders
Age: 54
Occupation: Real Estate Agent
From: Ruimsig, Johannesburg
What you need to know about him:
Confident, smooth talker Paul may be a little older than the other guys in his tribe, but he is in good shape. As he says himself, “I am a 54-year-old with a body that is 35-years-old,”. Paul is also a motivated and positive real estate agent who has negotiated countless property transactions and is highly respected in his field. When Paul doesn’t clinch deals, he loves being “the entertainer”, playing pranks or churning out corny comments. This divorced father of two sons, is no pushover, though! Even though Paul wants to bring some fun to the island, he is ready to play hard, proving that he can measure up to the young guns.

See the castaways on the Survivor South Africa’s Ta’alo tribe here.
See the castaways on the Survivor South Africa’s Laumei tribe here.

Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets begins on M-Net from Thursday 16 May at 19:00.

Feel free to comment, share or tweet @ElBroide