This as the young woman was described as being resilient, confident and driven during a memorial service at the Diepkloof Multipurpose Centre in Soweto on Wednesday.
Hundreds gathered to celebrate her life, which was brutally cut short.
A close friend, Neo Mohlabane, told of the last weekend she had seen Mokoena alive.
“Karabo had a few bruises before then,” she said, adding that Mokoena had told her: “He tried to finish me but he couldn’t. Through the grace of God I am still here. She said to me: ‘You know what, Neo, everything might look perfect on the outside, but ke mobe ka hare (I’m ugly on the inside) because he has hurt me on the inside’.”
“Karabo left us with huge gaping wounds. She complained about how difficult it was to break into the entertainment industry, but ironically, she’s now on the lips of everyone in the country.”
Dr Adele Tjale, Mokoena’s spiritual mother, said the 22-year-old was in a space that no woman should have been in. “Karabo had beautiful dreams. But there is a strength I never saw in anyone. There was a time when she came to my home at around 9pm completely battered. We taught her the word. She chose Christ and she lived in his path,” Tjale said.
She was livid that it was becoming the norm for women to be killed, and questioned the absence of male figures who were meant to play an active role in the lives of girl children.
“The fathers of this nation have not protected our girl children. It is up to us as women to protect them,” Tjale added.
Karabo’s charred remains were found over a week ago in the veld in Bramley, Joburg.
Her horrific murder sparked national outrage.
Footage from April 28 was retrieved at the place that Karabo and her boyfriend, Sandile Mantsoe, stayed, and in it, she was seen walking in with the boyfriend but never seen coming out.
Mantsoe was later seen in the footage walking out pushing a bin.
Police and security guards waited for the him to return and apprehended him as he tried to sneak in the same room he exited pushing the bin.
He appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court this past Friday, where he was charged with murder. Mantsoe is expected to make a formal bail application on Wednesday.
The Star reported on Tuesday that Mantsoe’s family twice failed in a bid to extend an olive branch and offer their condolences to the Mokoena family.
Wednesday, Mokoena’s school friend Nozi Zodube described her as someone who had a sense of humour but was also ambitious.
“She wanted to be a DJ, she wanted to open a beauty spa and wanted to be a TV personality. I told her she could be any of those things because she was driven,” Zodube said.
Kholoswa Ntlemeza, a childhood friend, jokingly said Mokoena got her into trouble a few times while growing up. She echoed Zodube’s sentiments of her friend.
Her cousin, Boipelo Mokoena, said Karabo’s death had left the family broken and confused.
“She used to like following me around. She wanted to be like me. She was a beauty queen and she was confident.
"Karabo lived her short life as if she knew her time was close, because she did a lot,” Boipelo said. “Thank you for always being there when I needed you. You left us confused and broken.”
Among those at the memorial were Gauteng MEC for Education Lesufi Panyaza and veteran TV personality Patrick Shai.
Mokoena will be laid to rest at Westpark cemetery on Friday.