School honour, doccie for late teen icon Ontlametse Phalatse

Bellah Phalatse with her daughter Ontlametse, who is being remembered in a school renaming and a documentary.
Bellah Phalatse with her daughter Ontlametse, who is being remembered in a school renaming and a documentary.
Image: Lauren Mulligan.

Ontlametse Phalatse, the teen who died from a rare disease called progeria last year, will be honoured when her alma mater primary school is renamed after her on Thursday.

The North West department of education and sport development will rename Hebron Primary School as the Ontlametse Phalatse primary school.

Ontlametse was the first black female to be diagnosed with the rare disease in the country. Progeria accelerates ageing in sufferers.

In her case, doctors had pronounced that she would not live beyond the age of 14 but she surprised many around the world when she lived to 18 and completed her matric.

"Ontlametse is our home- grown icon. Her story captivated the world until she passed away ... We want the school to be a monument to remind our citizens that life is about believing in yourself and that education is the best weapon against poverty," said MEC Sello Lehari.

A documentary chronicling the life and times of Ontlametse has been produced and will be shown in select schools around the province.

It speaks about her life and the challenges she faced living with the rare disease.

Lehari said: "We have drawn up an extensive list of schools to visit with a special focus on those in the rural parts of our province.

"We understand that most of our learners come from homes where there is no motivation to see education as the path to a better life. We trust Ontlametse's story will help them to see the light."

The documentary, called My Attractive Life, was produced and directed by Keabetswe Mokoena.

"Although Ontlametse had physical deformities, she did not allow that to hold her back as she did all the things teenagers did," said Mokoena, who hopes to help establish a museum of her clothes, shoes, letters, diary and trophies.

X