21 April 2017

South Africa: Mourners Turn Out in Numbers to Pay Tribute to Tiny Giant, Ontlametse

Mourners turned out in their numbers to say their last goodbyes to Ontlametse Phalatse as her coffin left her home for one last time on Friday morning.

A woman broke down as her tiny coffin, held by six pallbearers, was moved to the marquee where her funeral service was being held at her home in Hebron, in the North West.

Police swept the venue, which was expected to be attended by President Jacob Zuma and several high profile people, at dawn.

Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu and North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo are also in attendance.

Mourners started to gather at the family home situated at 696 Motseng Section, Hebron Village where the funeral service was being held at around 06:00 on Friday morning.

Despite the chilly weather, people turned out in their numbers to say their last goodbyes to Phalatse.

Phalatse died on Tuesday, April 11, a day before her mother, Bella, and Zuma's 75th birthday.

The 18-year-old was invited to Zuma's birthday as a special guest, but she did not even get a chance to wear the tailor-made outfit she had designed for the celebrations.

On that fateful Tuesday, Phalatse, who had progeria - a rare genetic disease that causes premature ageing - had gone to town with her mother to see a tailor who was putting her specially-made outfit together.

On their way home, Phalatse experienced breathing problems.

In a cowering position, she pleaded with the taxi driver to hurry home.

She died at the Dr George Mukhari Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa from lung failure last Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, Zuma presented the family with a car, which was one of Phalatse's wishes.

Phalatse paid Zuma a courtesy call on the eve of her 18th birthday last month, which was also part of her wish list.

"Ontlametse will be remembered for her sharp intellect, warm personality, brilliant ideas and her determination to use her condition to motivate others [so] that they can achieve their goals regardless of any challenges."

Zuma said he remained committed to fulfilling his undertaking to help the Phalatse family by building a house for them.

On Wednesday afternoon, hundreds of Hebron community members gathered at the Mmanotshe Moduane High School hall in the North West.


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