Most Americans had probably never heard the name Reeva Steenkamp before learning that double-amputee sprinting star Oscar Pistorius had been charged with killing her. But the 29-year-old Steenkamp was a pretty impressive person in her own right; she was a law school grad, a successful model, a future reality TV contestant, and, in a sad irony, an advocate who fought violence against women, the Guardian reports. Steenkamp, who had dated Pistorius only a few months, was supposed to give a motivational speech at a Johannesburg school Thursday.
Friends and business contacts describe Steenkamp as funny, intelligent, and even inspiring. "The girl was really going places," says a former editor for South Africa's edition of FHM, which has had Steenkamp on its cover. Hearing about her death was "a hammer blow. … It was like, 'I know her, oh my God.' I've been trying to process it. It's a real tragedy that such a bright girl has gone." Steenkamp's family is "devastated" by her death, an uncle says, according to the Telegraph. "She loved people, she loved everybody," he adds. And, he says, the family "had no clue that there were any problems" between her and Pistorius, People reports. "This was a complete bolt out of the blue." The Telegraph notes that in a newspaper interview on Sunday, Steenkamp described Pistorius as "an impeccable man who always has her best interests at heart."