Durban - A Phoenix woman has spoken of the special bond she had with model Reeva Steenkamp, whose Valentine’s Day death at the hands of her boyfriend, Oscar Pistorius, shocked the world.
Amy Genevieve Arulappan, 26, described Steenkamp, a fellow contestant in the reality show, Tropika Island of Treasure, as the “most honest, warmest person I have ever met” and said the model was like a mother to the other contestants.
Arulappan, known as AmyG in the show, shared a villa with Steenkamp in Jamaica, where it was filmed.
The contestants were vying for a R1 million prize.
“When I met Reeva for the first time at the airport in Johannesburg, she was so down to earth; she chatted with everybody in our group of contestants,” she said.
“When we got to Jamaica, I was told that I would be sharing a villa with her and Phuthi Khomo, who is also a model.
“So at first I was really scared about sharing a villa with celebrities, but Reeva made me comfortable by chatting with me about everything,” Arulappan said.
“She became like a mom to all of us because she would clean up after us, she would ask how everyone was feeling, and if you were feeling down, she made sure that she asked what was wrong with you.”
Even though Arulappan lasted only a week in the show, becoming the first contestant to be eliminated, she said her lasting memory of Steenkamp was on the day of her elimination.
“In the morning before elimination, Reeva came to my room, I was already packing because I knew that I would be eliminated. She came and gave me the warmest hug I had ever received and told me that everything happens for a reason.
“She said I was the strongest woman that she had ever met, and my life was not going to end because of elimination,” Arulappan said. “She was very encouraging.”
Pistorius, who was charged with murder, was last week granted bail of R1 million. He has said he had mistaken Steenkamp for an intruder.
“The events surrounding her death are clouding the real person Reeva was. I wish that we could just all take a moment and observe the real person that she was,” said Arulappan.
Arulappan, who works as a client relationship manager for a medical insurance company in Durban, said she was disappointed at being eliminated from the show, but held no grudges against anyone.
“I am more disappointed in myself. I have always tried to get my foot in the entertainment industry, but when I was given the opportunity, I let myself down by being scared and reserved,” she said. “I didn’t show off my real talent.”
The 10 episodes of the show’s fifth season pit 14 celebrities and ordinary people against one another on an island in Jamaica, where they have to undergo various physical challenges.
Tropika Island of Treasure airs on SABC1 on Saturdays at 6.30pm.