Reeva Steenkamp, whom South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius has been charged with murdering Thursday at his Pretoria home, had been dating Pristorius for just over two months and was passionate about speaking out against domestic violence.
She was a 29-year-old law graduate who was described by many fashion editors as being a model who had a “mature understanding” of an industry that can often be brutal to those who are more naive.
Hagen Engler, the former editor of South Africa’s FHM Magazine, said Skeenkamp’s death was a “hammer blow.”
“It’s a hammer blow. I heard the news about Oscar Pistorius and then it was like, ‘I know her, oh my God,'” Engler told the Guardian. “She went into the modelling industry and had a mature understanding of it. She had a funny sense of humour, like a guy’s sense of humour. She was talented and was starting to succeed and get a bit of a following. The girl was really going places.”
Engler had put Steenkamp on the magazine’s cover and observed she wanted to use her modeling platform help empower women who had been domestically abused.
Steenkamp’s publicist first confirmed the news of her passing on Thursday.
“We can confirm that Reeva Steenkamp has passed away,” Steenkamp’s publicist Sarit Tomlinson said. “We are in communication with people on the scene, please wait for official statements, as there is too much speculation at this moment in time. We will provide further information as soon as we are able to provide accurate information as to what transpired.
“Our thoughts and prayers go to the Steenkamp family, who have asked to have their privacy respected during this difficult time, everyone is simply devastated. She was the kindest, sweetest human being; an angel on earth and will be sorely missed.”
Steenkamp was the face of Avon in South Africa and her reality show was set to air this weekend.
On Feb. 10, she tweeted, “I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals.”
On the morning of Feb. 13, she tweeted about how excited she was for Valentine’s Day.
— Reeva Steenkamp (@reevasteenkamp) February 13, 2013
Earlier on Feb. 13, Steenkamp tweeted that she was starting off her day with a “yummy healthy shake from my boo :)” and that it was a “beautiful day,” with the “#healthyliving” hashtag.
Steenkamp was born in Cape Town and grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.