Most South Africans are yet to embrace the fact that South Africa’s self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’ Ontlametse Ntlami Phalatse has died.
Phalatse, who suffered from a rare genetic disorder which causes premature aging, died on Wednesday morning after she was admitted to Dr. George Mukhari Academic Hospital with breathing difficulties on Tuesday.
Ontlametse was one of the two South African young women living with Progeria – an extremely rare genetic disorder in which symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age.
By the time Phalatse turned three months old, her mother had already treated her severally of skin rashes. As time went on, she found that there was more to it than a skin disease.
Doctors had told her mother in 2009 that she will not to live beyond the age of 13, but Ontlametse apparently proved them all wrong, having celebrated her birthday seventeen good times.
On Thursday, March 25, 2017, – two days before her 18th birthday – she met with President Jacob Zuma at his home at his Mahlamba Ndlopfu Presidential House in the Bryntirion Estate in Pretoria as part of her bucket list of wishes.
She was accompanied by her mother, Bellon Phalatse, and Advocate Bonginkosi Ngubane from the Ontlametse Phalatse Trust.
It was during the colorful occasion that she requested for a family car and house. Zuma at the time promised to make her wishes a reality, promising to talk to the department of human settlements or social development.
On Wednesday, President Zuma said he will honour his promise to giving the family of the elfin child with a big personality and bright smile a house.
He also conveyed his condolences to her mother, her family, and her foundation – the Ontlametse Phalatse Trust.
The foundation’s executive director, Audrey Gordon, some time disclosed that only two Africans have been diagnosed and both live in South Africa — Ontlametse Phalatse and a 5-year-old white girl.
Ontlametse Ntlami Phalatse died at George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa, Pretoria. Deputy Minister of Social Development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, broke the sad news of Ontlametse’s death at midnight on social media.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Ontlametse Phalatse. May her great spirit rest in eternal peace,” Bogopane-Zulu wrote.
The much-loved teen and self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’ is from Hebron, outside Mabopane in Tshwane. Ontlametse Ntlami Phalatse lived up to 18 and finished her matric with good grades.
Her death has evoked an outpouring of emotional tributes on social media, with many well-known celebrities celebrating the life and bravery of the teen.
Here are some tributes to the much-loved ‘First Lady’.
Heaven couldn't wait any longer. Thank you for everything. Sweet sleep to an undeniable inspiration. RIP Ntlami 🌻🌼❤ pic.twitter.com/Wuo8DTtgQS
— Bontle (@BontleModiselle) April 12, 2017
So saddened by the passing of Ntlami! 😭😭😭
May her soul rest in eternal peace. pic.twitter.com/lm3TRFpV0M
— Sibusiso D. Mthembu (@SbuNoah) April 12, 2017
May your beautiful soul RIP Ntlami. Honored to have met you. 💔💔😭😭😭🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/O63Y66cYB5
— Jimmy Tau (@Jimmytau2) April 12, 2017