The freckled blonde who appeared in scanty bikinis on magazine covers and sashayed down fashion ramps was "continuously breaking the model stereotype," said her publicist Sarit Tomlinson.
Steenkamp was "the sweetest, kindest, just angelic soul" and at the same time "a very inspiring individual, very passionate about speaking about women and empowerment."
Scores of tributes were posted online. Fellow model Mashadi Motsogi tweeted: "You will be missed my sister. I can't hold the tears back. Love you always. RIP."