WHAT would have been a grand celebration of the “Big 3-0” for slain model Reeva Steenkamp on Monday will be nothing more than a painful reminder of how her life tragically ended as her boyfriend, Paralympian Oscar Pistorius, appears in court for her murder.
Pistorius is due back in court on Monday and is likely to find out when he will stand trial for his Port Elizabeth-born girlfriend’s killing – ironically on the day she would have turned 30.
Plans that the Steenkamp family had been making since last year – of a gathering of her family and friends from all over the country for a massive braai at the Steenkamps’ Port Elizabeth home – were dashed by the fatal Valentine’s Day shooting.
Reeva’s Cape Town-based uncle, Michael Steenkamp, and his wife will be visiting Reeva’s parents, Barry and June Steenkamp, from tomorrow to support the couple “at this extremely difficult time”.
“A lot is happening all in one day. It’s a heavy day,” he said.
“As the family, we will be remembering her from wherever we are in the country because it would have been too painful having everybody here at once.”
Michael said had things not “gone the way they did”, their entire Steenkamp clan and friends would have been arriving in the city for a big celebration for Reeva’s “special milestone birthday”.
“This would have been a special birthday and we had been planning it since last year,” he said.
“We would have gathered [today] for a big family breakfast and a braai in the afternoon. Her friends from all over the country would have been here. It would have been really beautiful.”
The bubbly blonde model celebrated her 29th birthday in style last year by throwing a high tea birthday party at the plush DaVinci Hotel in Sandton, which was attended by several of her model friends.
Among them was fellow Port Elizabeth beauty Shashi Naidoo, who brought along an unlikely surprise guest – her father, who was visiting Shashi that week.
Shashi’s father, PE guesthouse owner Harry Naidoo, remembers Reeva’s birthday as the day he was the “rose among the thorns” – and like it was “just the other day”.
“That was a lovely birthday for a lovely young lady,” he recalled. “Reeva was surprised to see me, but understood why I was there.”
Harry, 70, had gone up to Johannesburg that week to visit Shashi, who didn’t want to leave him alone at home.
“I had a grand old time surrounded by all those beautiful ladies. And Reeva’s reaction to my being there was great. She was friendly, a really lovely person.
“I said ‘happy birthday’ to her and she responded very well. At some point I saw that maybe I was making them uncomfortable so I retreated to another corner and quietly read the paper.”
The model’s friends have also said they will always remember her for the beautiful person she was inside and out.
To them, the fact that Pistorius is appearing in court for her murder on her birthday was just a “tragic coincidence”.
Former FHM editor Hagen Engler said Reeva was a “really motivated and ambitious model”.
“She would have gone very far had her life not been cut short. She had enormous potential,” he said.
Port Elizabeth photographer Mark West knew Reeva from when she was just starting out in her modelling career over a decade ago.
“She was a great model. She was also a person of contradiction in that she was a private person, yet very much out there and involved in many things . . . It was a privilege to be around her.”