Cerebral, campaigning model with 'angelic soul'

Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 00:00

Reeva Steenkamp (30), model and “world’s sexiest woman” two years running, did not fit the stereotype.

While she had a high-flying career as a clothes model, plus a portfolio of swimwear, lingerie and red carpet-type photos, Steenkamp also had a more cerebral, academic bent.

She was a law graduate from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth and a campaigner for female empowerment . Throughout South Africa, she was known simply by her first name – a measure of her celebrity status.

A few days ago, she tweeted:

“I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals. . .”

The tweet was in response to the rape and murder of Anene Booysen (17) who was gang-raped and mutilated at a construction site in Bredasdorp, a rural town some 130km from Cape Town. Two men have since been charged with her murder.

When not on fashion shoots for FHM men’s magazine (which twice declared her the world’s sexiest), or for the jewellery company Sivana Diamonds, or for Avon cosmetics, for whom she was “the face” in South Africa, she preferred “to read a book on her off days and spend quality time with friends and family”, according to the website of Tropika Island of Treasure, a South African reality show on which she was about to appear.

She was “continuously breaking the model stereotype”, said her publicist, Sarit Tomlinson, adding that she was “the sweetest, kindest, just angelic soul” and “a very inspiring individual, very passionate about speaking about women and empowerment”.