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Mon Sep 01 15:56:41 SAST 2014

'Beautiful both inside and out'

JACKIE MAY | 15 February, 2013 02:25
Model Reeva Steenkamp is seen in this undated handout picture released by Capacity Relations on February 14, 2013. South African "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee who became one of the biggest names in world athletics, was charged on Thursday with shooting dead his girlfriend Steenkamp at his upscale home in Pretoria.
Image by: HANDOUT / REUTERS

Hours before her death Reeva Steenkamp tweeted: "What do you have up your sleeve for your love tomorrow??? #getexcited #ValentinesDay."

But on St Valentine's Day the model was dead and her celebrity athlete boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius - who featured in President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation speech last year - had been charged with her murder.

While social media raged yesterday with responses to the tragic news, some of Steenkamp's close friends spoke with warmth and admiration about the young woman from Port Elizabeth who pursued a career in modelling after graduating from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University with a law degree.

Her old headmaster, Greg Stokell, of St Dominic's Priory, said: "She was a vibrant, friendly, diligent and motivated student who was popular and respected by staff and peers alike."

Steenkamp's flatmate, Gina Myers, yesterday said: "[She was] the most genuine, the most amazing person. I can't put into words how wonderful she was."

Myers, a make-up artist for celebrities, had been sharing a flat in Johannesburg with Steenkamp for six months. They became close friends four years ago.

Myers, whom ELLE magazine describes as the "legend of Gina", did Steenkamp's make-up for many of her modelling jobs.

"Reeva believed in me. She supported, pushed and believed in me. She was an angel."

Myers added: "She was very professional and took care of herself Though not scared of eating a pizza, she ate very well and looked after herself."

Family friend Claire Verfeld said that the family was "trying to deal with this sudden news".

The model's father, Barry Steenkamp, yesterday said that he was not willing to talk to the media "at this stage" because the family was trying to find out more about the circumstances of her death.

"We are still trying to find out what happened. I really don't want to talk to anyone now."

Family spokesman Michael Steenkamp - who flew to Port Elizabeth from Cape Town yesterday afternoon - said that her parents, June and Barry, were "shocked and devastated".

Most of those who were willing to speak described Steenkamp as a bubbly, caring young woman who had diligently pursued her career.

Steenkamp's public relations manager Sarit Tomlinson said: "Very rarely do you meet such a pure-hearted person [as Reeva]. She was kind-hearted, empathetic and always caring about others."

Thulane Hadebe, of Brand Ambassadors, a friend of Steenkamp for seven years, said: "She was such a bubbly and lovely and warm-hearted person. Not only was she beautiful on the outside, but on the inside too."

Myers would not comment on her friend's relationship with Pistorius, whom she started dating late last year.

But Tomlinson said: "No one has any clue what is going on. Reeva and Oscar had been seeing each other for a few months and the relationship was going very well. It was beautiful."

Despite the tragic death of the model, SABC1 confirmed yesterday that the forthcoming first episode of the fifth season of Tropika Island of Treasure, featuring Steenkamp, will premiere tomorrow evening.

Steenkamp was one of the celebrities - together with actress Jay Anstey, rappers AKA and Da L.E.S, former Miss South Africa Teen Phuthi Khomo and singer Mario Ogle - who competed against "ordinary people" for R1-million in a reality show that mixes the Amazing Race with Survivor.

The new season was shot in Jamaica. - Additional reporting by Andrea Nagel, Andile Ndlovu, Angela Gillham and Sapa

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Mon Sep 01 15:56:41 SAST 2014 ::