It was a day filled with emotion as close friends and family members gathered at the Houghton Hotel on Wednesday to honour reality TV star and businesswoman Naledi Willers at her memorial service.
Willers succumbed to cancer on December 7.
Video clips of Naledi were shared at the ceremony. In one of the recordings, Naledi’s journey with cancer was shared where she spoke of her decision to go through her experience privately.
“I am ready to join the military now … Because I have learned to suffer in silence and I also believe that if you beat continuously, I will keep state secrets,” Naledi said.
Her close friend, model and entrepreneur Babalwa Mneno, recalled moments she shared with the reality TV star as she moved into her home and became part of her family during their friendship.
“The first occasion where she had to fight for the first time, I was with her … But I encouraged her … I tried to instil some positivity in her. I told her be strong, God will never take you away from us … Your life was a blessing to us and my entire family … she helped me do the things I couldn’t do,” Babalwa said.
“I have lost a solider by my side, I’ve lost a true warrior. No-one fights my battles like Naledi did … I have lost my travel partner. I was Naledi’s everything. I was her big sister, her mom, because I’m sure I’m close to her mom’s age, but I also made sure that I have the best of times, it’s going to be hard to fill her space. Naledi left so much brightness within myself and my family, no darkness can dull it.”
Sonia Mbele spoke of the sisterhood she developed with Naledi after meeting her when she was judging for the Miss SA pageant in 2012.
“When I was going through a divorce, she was there for me, you can imagine it was a public spectacle and with the depression it wasn’t easy … I lost my meaning of life, Naledi was there to give me that meaning … I know I wouldn’t have survived that period if she wasn’t in my life, she was a champion, and she championed me through that phase and for that, Mosadi, I thank you.”
Her mother expressed her pride in having a talented daughter that became a cut above the rest, and found courage in that she was watching over her now.
“She was a wonderful daughter to have. What she went through made me strong and I would not be able to stand here. She made me tougher. I know, seeing me standing here, she is clapping hands for me. She never wanted me to lose it in front of people. But I feel strong enough to share this with you all and I know I will get stronger every day. I believe she is watching over me and God is watching over me.”