"I love you Karabo, and I will always miss you. I don't know what life will be like without you, but always know that I love you, Karabo".
In a touching tribute to her little sister, an inconsolable Bontle Mokoena wept while she read out a heart-wrenching letter at the funeral of Karabo Mokoena in the Diepkloof Hall in Soweto on Friday.
Twenty-seven-year-old Bontle's bloodshot and swollen eyes focused on the letter as she asked everyone to bear with her while she forced her way through a letter written by Karabo, saying this was the hardest thing she had ever done.
According to Karabo's cousin, Boipelo Mokoena, the letter was written in 2015 by Karabo, and it was addressed to her father, who apparently had never heard its contents until Friday morning.
The letter details Karabo's childhood life, mentioning how her family always made means for the family of five – oscillating between good and bad times. In the letter, Karabo says she would not trade her parents for any other parents, as they had taken risks to give their children better opportunities.
"We had really tough times, accompanied by better days too, no matter how hard it could have went, they gave us only what they could afford," sobbed Bontle.
Bontle said that she had learnt a lot about life through her younger sister. The pain in her voice evoked emotion as grief filled the hall. Bontle's cousin caressed her back as she composed herself and prepared to give a brief account of her sister after reading out the letter.
President of the ANC Women's League and Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini struggled to fight back tears as the young woman wailed on stage, her words barely audible.
"She used to tell me, 'Bontle you need to stand up, you need to be tall, you need to be grateful for life.'
"I will never forget you Karabo Mokoena, although you have left a huge hole in my heart, I thank my mother and father for bringing you in this world, because now I know and understand the true meaning of life because of you," she said, breaking down on stage as her cousin handed her water and tissues.
Speaking in Sesotho, she said, "I love you Karabo, and I will always miss you. I don't know what life will be like without you, but always know that I love you, Karabo," Bontle cried.
Bontle continued sobbing and sniffing as she fought back tears, thanking everyone who had been supportive towards her and her family throughout their ordeal.
"Thank you so much. I would like for us to continue these friendships that we have built throughout the funeral. All of Karabo's friends, guys, should I need someone to watch DStv with me, please can I call you guys to come and sit with me," she said, her voice breaking.
Karabo – who was 22 years old at the time of her gruesome death – is alleged to have been killed and burnt by an ex-lover who also allegedly abused and assaulted her. Her body was found in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg on April 29.