Valentine’s Day 2014 marks a year since Reeva Rebecca Steenkamp was shot dead by her world famous boyfriend, paralympic Oscar Pistorius, in his highly-secured Pretoria home.
“She had a great heart, Reeva was special,” her friend, former Miss SA, Nicole Flint, told Sapa.
The petite blonde would have turned 30 in August last year. She had been dating double amputee Pistorius since 2012.
Her glamorous modelling career was intertwined with plans to pursue a career in law and the fight for the rights of women and children. A vehement opponent of violence against women, Steenkamp had planned to open a shelter for abused women and children, said Flint.
She and Pistorius became friends after meeting on the Johannesburg social scene. The beautiful Steenkamp would be seen in the company of the dashing paralympian at A-list events.
Flint recalled: “She was funny, and would make you laugh hysterically. Whether she was out at an event or relaxing, Reeva never changed. She remained the lovely friend I got to know.”
In 2012, Steenkamp formed part of a group of local celebrities roped in by socialite Mika Stefano to advance the cause of Spirit Day, an international campaign against the bullying of homosexuals.
This was one of many of Steenkamp’s social responsibility events. She was also involved in charity work.
She made her reality television show debut in the “Tropika Island of Treasure”, set in Jamaica in 2013. It was aired a few days after her death.
Reeva was a roaming presenter for Fashion TV in South Africa, and had featured in several television advertisements.
“She has done so much, and was still going to do a lot more,” said Flint.
Jane Cilliers, spokeswoman for Ice modelling agency in Johannesburg, which Steenkamp had joined, said she was preparing to become a lawyer before her death.
“She loved law, and was getting ready to become an advocate… everything was coming together for her in 2013.
“She was scheduled to speak to pupils about violence and women abuse that week when she tragically died.”
The upcoming murder trial would be a sad reminder of her tragic death.
“Her family and the rest of the people who loved her will have to re-live the ordeal that she went through. No parent should bury their child,” said Cilliers.
Staff at the modelling agency would get together on Valentine’s Day to remember the “happy and loving” Reeva a year later, Cilliers said.
After her death, Steenkamp was named 2013 Person of the Year by the online publication Daily Maverick — together with Bredasdorp teenager Anene Booysen, who was raped and murdered and died in hospital on February 2 that year.
It had the following to say: “Let us remember Reeva, and Anene, and the countless other women whose deaths and rapes are considered so unexceptional that they warrant not even a single mention in a newspaper. Let us remember them as people, and not simply as the statistics we bear as a mark of national shame.”
Reeva, the daughter of Barry Steenkamp and his wife, June, was born on August 19, 1983, in Cape Town. The Steenkamps moved to Port Elizabeth when she was a child, where she attended school and university. She attained a law degree at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth in 2005.
Her star started to shine during her teens when she started modelling at the age of 14. She was a finalist in the Weekend Post Faces of the Future competition in 2004 and in The Herald Miss Port Elizabeth contest in 2005.
Reeva appeared in FHM magazine as a model and cover girl and was the first face of Avon cosmetics in South Africa. She modelled for jewellery company Sivana Diamonds.
This picture of an idyllic life changed in the cruellest fashion imaginable in February last year. Steenkamp was shot dead in Pistorius’s bathroom. Pistorius has not denied killing her, but says it was an accident after he mistook her for an intruder.
Pistorius’s lawyers and representatives of the Steenkamps were reportedly in talks for an out-of-court settlement, which could cost the paralympian a hefty amount.
The family is seeking compensation for the death of their daughter, who was supporting them financially. The negotiations between the two parties started in August last year.
Her body was cremated at a private ceremony in Port Elizabeth on February 19, 2013.
Pistorius would stand trial from March 3 in the High Court in Pretoria. Her mother, June, has said she would attend the trial.
“All we are looking for is closure and to know that our daughter did not suffer on that tragic Valentine’s Day,” her family said.