She was one of FHM magazine's 100 Sexiest Women in the World for the past two years, appeared in international and South African advertisements and was to make her debut next week as a celebrity contestant on the reality TV show "Tropika Island of Treasure" filmed in Jamaica. She was also the South African face of Avon cosmetics. Police said the model was 30.
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."