Oti Mabuse said she was “shaken inside” after the death of her niece Tlhogi aged 28.
The Dancing On Ice judge, 31, shared a lengthy tribute on Instagram, describing her relative as “the kindest, sweetest person in my life.”
South African Mabuse also shared a photo of her hugging Tlhogi and wrote: “How’s that the last time I would hold you in my arms?”
Mabuse, who retired as a professional dancer from Strictly Come Dancing earlier this year, added: “I’m so devastated inside I can’t even begin to describe the pain. It shouldn’t work like that. We had plans together to travel around the world and dance on a beach in Jamaica for my birthday.”
Reflecting on their childhood together, she said: “Ever since we were 8 years old, I’ve picked you up every day from daycare, from swimming, from chess. You were only 28 and yet you were the kindest, sweetest person in my life! I lost my niece, my little sister, my best friend.
“Life has dealt you the toughest card, but you always chose to win, you always fought to come out the other side with a smile on your face. I love you very much with all my heart and now you’re gone and I feel lost in more ways than one by a pain I’ve never felt before.
“I’m still calling and texting you and trying to understand — how? Why? May you rest in peace and strength. My sweet Tlhogi.”
Mabuse concluded: “Say hello to Koko, Abuti Neo Le Malume Tshepo. I promise to take care of Sesi, Nanikie and Mpho for you.”
Strictly’s head judge Shirley Ballas, model Daisy Lowe, RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Michelle Visage and singer Alexandra Burke were among those who offered their condolences.
Burke wrote, “Sending you love sweetheart, I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Mabuse spent seven years as a professional dancer on BBC One’s Strictly, winning the Glitterball trophy twice in 2019 with Kelvin Fletcher and in 2020 with Bill Bailey.
Announcing her departure earlier this year, she joined ITV’s Dancing On Ice, replacing John Barrowman on the panel of judges.
Her older sister Motsi is a judge at Strictly.
https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/oti-mabuse-pays-tribute-to-kindest-sweetest-niece-following-her-death-aged-28-41465188.html Oti Mabuse pays tribute to ‘kindest, sweetest’ niece after her death aged 28