THE GEM is no more. This was the title of a poem read solemnly by Lesego Motsepe’s uncle, Abe Ntlatleng, at a memorial service held for the TV star at the SABC studios in Auckland Park yesterday.
Motsepe – who is best known for her role in SABC3’s soapie Isidingo as Lettie Matabane, and for her work as an HIV/Aids activist – was found dead on Monday in her home in Randburg. She was 39.
“Last Thursday, when her brother tried to call her, he didn’t manage to get hold of her… but Lesego, as we knew her, was adventurous and always on the road. We thought she was busy with her various engagements,” he said.
But when Friday, Saturday and Sunday passed with calls to her going unanswered, her brother Moemise decided to go to her home.
“He found the burglar bar locked but the door slightly opened. He managed to open it and entered. He looked around her place for her and there, on the kitchen floor, lay the lifeless body of Lesego,” he continued, his voice trailing off.
As he spoke, the pained sobbing of Motsepe’s family members echoed through the hall.
Ntlatleng added that an autopsy was currently being conducted which her family hoped would ascertain the cause, day and time of her death.
The 300-seater hall in which the service was held was filled to capacity with Motsepe’s family, friends, actors, actresses and musicians.
Motsepe, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1998, publicly disclosed her status in 2011. However, in 2012 she made the controversial announcement on a TV talk show that she had weaned herself off ARVs as she could not bear the thought of taking pills every day for the rest of her life.
Her doctor, Dr Marlin McKay said on Thursday that while he was disappointed in her stance, he admired her courage and respected her decision.
“Sego (Lesego) was very clued up on HIV. She was the type of patient who would make any doctor nervous. I enjoyed our moments of interaction. After our disagreements, she’d write me a poem,” he said, bringing comic relief to the grief-laden ceremony.
Her friends remembered her as a generous, loving, spiritual and humorous person who treated everyone with dignity and respect.
Her friend of more than 20 years, Mmakelello Phine, spoke of the time when Motsepe was still driving her first car, a Ford Fiesta.
“It was raining and she was coming back from a function in the evening. But her car got stuck because of the flooding. She took her handbag and sat on top of the car and called us (as friends),” she said.
Phine continued: “She said, ‘Tsala! (friend) get up, go outside and look at the stars. I asked her what she was doing because it was 10pm and she said casually, ‘oh, I’m stuck. Just go outside and look at the stars!’”
This, Phine said, was indicative of the kind of person Motsepe was – someone who always found something positive in a negative situation.
Motsepe’s funeral service will be held from 10am at the Bryanston Methodist Church on Saturday, followed by a private cremation ceremony. - The Star