Ontlametse Phalatse’s Memorial: 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 Tuesday, April 11, after being admitted to Dr. George Mukhari Academic Hospital with breathing difficulties.
Following her tragic death, her family announced on Friday that Ontlametse Phalatse’s Memorial service will hold on Wednesday, April 19 to honor the ‘special child’.
Phalatse’s aunt, Maureen Moropa told reporters that the family has since started arrangements to bury the 18-year-old champion.
The first black progeria sufferer had died hours after she told the taxi driver taking her to the town of difficulty in breathing.
Her last words during her dying moments were: “Ou bhuti, I am struggling to breathe.”
Phalatse and her mother were on their way to fetch a tailor-made outfit that she was supposed to wear on Wednesday night at President Jacob Zuma’s 75th birthday party, where she was a special guest.
The much-loved teen and self-proclaimed ‘First Lady’ is from Hebron, outside Mabopane in Tshwane.
On Wednesday, the Jacob Zuma Foundation presented the bereaved family with a car and also promised to build Phalatse’s family a home, as promised during her visit last month.
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 and Advocate Bonginkosi Ngubane from the Ontlametse Phalatse Trust.
It was during the colorful occasion that she requested for her family a car and house. Zuma at the time agreed to make her wishes a reality, promising to talk to the department of human settlements or social development.
Doctors had told Phalatse’s mother in 2009 that she will not to live beyond the age of 14, but she apparently proved them all wrong, having celebrated her birthday eighteen good times. She also finished her matric with good grades.
Though Phalatse was a weak and unhealthy child throughout her lifetime, she was always outspoken, brilliant, friendly, loving and good-natured.
No wonder throngs of South Africans celebrities, civic organizations, government agencies, friends, and well-wishers lamented profusely on learning about the death of the ‘First Lady’.
Here are some reactions:
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
— Uyanda Mbuli (@UyandaM) April 12, 2017
May your beautiful soul RIP Ntlami. Honored to have met you. 💔💔😭😭😭🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/O63Y66cYB5
— Jimmy Tau (@Jimmytau2) April 12, 2017
Meanwhile, a member of the Ontlametse Phalatse Trust, Dr. Babalwa kaMabhoza also announced that the family will appreciate any donation or help from the country that would assist Phalatse’s mother and brother live a comfortable life.
According to the Progeria Research Foundation, Ontlametse is the first black child diagnosed with progeria. The foundation’s executive director, Audrey Gordon, once revealed that only two Africans have been diagnosed and both live in South Africa — Ontlametse Phalatse and a 5-year-old white girl.
The number of children diagnosed around the world is said to have soared from 48 to 80 on five continents.
Without mincing words, Phalatse’s death has taught most people a lot of things and we can only hope that the lessons be used as a transformation spin. RIP Ontlametse Phalatse.