Cape Town - Former Miss Universe Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters (23) recently shared the news of the death of her little sister, Franje (13), with her followers on social media.
"My little princess, angel on earth, biggest joy and little sister Franje passed away earlier today. Our hearts are aching beyond measure but I’m grateful knowing she’s forever relieved of the pain she experienced on earth. She’s laughing, running and playing in heaven just like we always hoped she would on earth. She’s free! Thank you for all your prayers, love and support. Love you forever, my sis – one day we’ll be together again," she wrote on social media.
Some of Demi-Leigh’s 1,4 million Instagram followers sent messages of support to the beauty queen and her family.
"Deepest sympathy to you and your family," wrote TV presenter Rozanne McKenzie.
"So sorry, Dems. Thinking of you. May God carry you through this difficult time," model and celebrity Lee-Ann Liebenberg conveyed her condolences.
Franje was born with subtotal cerebellar agnesis, a rare condition that entails the absence of the brain’s cerebellum, which is located behind the top part of the brain stem where the spinal cord meets the brain. She couldn’t talk, walk or eat and was fed by tube, Demi had earlier told YOU.
"Franje was a disabled little girl and she had problems with her lungs," Demi-Leigh’s stepmom, Elzabé, said to YOU.
Franje is Demi-Leigh’s sister from the second marriage of her dad, Bennie Peters. Her parents got divorced when she was 18 months old.
"She was admitted to hospital with pneumonia on Tuesday and her condition got worse every day," Elzabé said.
"Later we were told she had viral pneumonia and they couldn’t give her any antibiotics.
"At times her temperature went up to 42°C and that’s why on Friday we took her to her paediatrician of the past 11 years. He gave her morphine because she was suffering so much. She breathed her last breath on Saturday morning," a heartbroken Elzabé said.
"They [Demi and Franje] saw each other on 27 February when Demi happened to be in South Africa on Franje’s birthday, and she knew Franje was ill," she added.
Demi has spoken in the past about her affection for Franje. She’s also the big reason why Demi approached her role as Miss Universe with so much passion. She wanted to live life to the full for both of them.
"Demi had just arrived in Syracuse, New York, where Tim [Tebow, her fiancé] plays baseball when we told her about Franje passing away," Elzabé said.
"Because of the time difference we couldn’t initially reach her. She had to take three flights to get to New York and she called every time to check how her little sister was doing.
"We didn’t want to just send a message and wanted to make sure Tim was with her to give her a hug from South Africa," she says about the 31-year-old American sportsman who’s stolen Demi’s heart.
Tim also shared an Instagram post and photo of Franje, saying he was praying for his fiancée and her family at this difficult time.