Sun Apr 23 07:33:50 CAT 2017

Humour and laughter as Ontlametse Phalatse fondly remembered

By Kgaugelo Masweneng | 2017-04-19 17:19:44.0

  • Deputy Minister of Social Developme Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu comforts Ontlametse's mother Bella during the memorial service of her daughter Ontlametse Phalatse who lived with progeria, a disorder that causes ageing, for 18 years of her life. she died of a lung failure last week. Photo Thulani Mbele.

  • Ontlametse Phalatse's family seated up front, along with Beandri Booysen who also suffers from Progeria Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko

  • Ontlametse Phalatse's family seated up front, along with Beandri Booysen who also suffers from Progeria Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko

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Humour and laughter reigned at the memorial service for motivational speaker and progeria sufferer Ontlametse Phalatse on Wednesday.

Humour and laughter reigned at a memorial service for the motivational speaker and progeria sufferer‚ held at Hebron High School in Hebron in the North West province on Wednesday.

Phalatse‚ who lived with the rare condition from birth‚ died of lung failure last Tuesday.

Comedian Thapelo “Tips” Seemisi served as programme director and kept things light‚ joking throughout the service.

Among those who attended the service was South Africa’s only surviving progeria sufferer‚ Beandri Booysen‚ who came with her mother‚ Bea Booysen. The disease leads to early aging due to a genetic abnormality.

A quote by Phalatse was contained on the memorial programme: “Beauty is not the appearance of someone but it is their personality and how they are on the inside as well as their heart.”

Dudu Myeni‚ executive chairperson of the Jacob Zuma Foundation‚ said: “The foundation has made a promise to fulfil the dreams of Ontlametse“‚ which included a home for her mother.

“On behalf of the foundation‚ I would like to announce that the president‚ Jacob Zuma‚ will attend the funeral on Friday‚” she added.

With a programme that could only accommodate so many tributes‚ heartfelt speeches were made in memory of Phalatse.

 Tebogo Gololo‚ a friend‚ urged all of her friends to stay strong.

 Thami Dyani ‚ the principal of Hebron primary school recalled when Phalatse‚ a former pupil‚ made it her mission to improve conditions at the school.

“Don’t worry principal‚ I will bring the MEC and we will resolve all the infrastructural problems in the school‚” she told the principal. “And amongst the other contributions was providing sanitary pads for the learners in the school‚” said Dyani.

 Phalatse’s high school colleagues‚ from St Dominican’s Convent‚ recalled her as someone who led a meaningful and significant life. She stole the hearts of teachers and fellow learners with her confidence and sense of humour.

High school councillor‚ Tanya Lamb Dewar‚ gave an emotional account of her relationship with Phalatse. “I will miss you my little one‚ with the words from your WhatsApp message that said‚ ‘Miss me a little and not too long‚ miss me but let me go’.”

Advocate Bonginkosi Ngubane from the Onkametse Trust reassured everyone that the trust would ensure that Phalatse’s dreams come true.

 Cheers filled the room when she was affectionately referred to as “pint sized dynamite“.

President Jacob Zuma is expected to attend the funeral of Ontlametse Phalatse on Friday.