Oti Mabuse has heartbreakingly detailed her experience of losing someone close to her through the coronavirus pandemic.
The Strictly champion, 30, appeared on Wednesday’s episode of Steph’s Packed Lunch where she discussed how Covid-19 had impacted her friends and family.
Oti said: ‘My family’s back in South Africa so because of the travel bans I haven’t been able to see them in a couple of years. It hurts, it’s really sad. We talk as much as we can on Zoom but it’s when you lose someone that it becomes real.
Tragic: Oti Mabuse has heartbreakingly detailed her experience of losing someone close to her through the coronavirus pandemic
‘My best friend, closest to my heart, he lost his mum over Christmas… We couldn’t go back to South Africa because their borders are closed, and he couldn’t leave America. He’s alone, no friends, no family, he went there just for work…’
An emotional Oti continued: ‘What was worse was that we then had to attend her funeral and because we can’t travel, that had to be over YouTube.
‘Now YouTube is a place we go to to learn, to have fun, to dance, never in a million years do you think you have to say goodbye to your mum, the queen of your heart – it makes me so emotional – over YouTube.
Honest: The Strictly champion, 30, appeared on Wednesday’s episode of Steph’s Packed Lunch where she discussed how Covid-19 had impacted her friends and family
Oti went on to explain how her friend struggled with the loss of his mother alone due to being stranded in the U.S. at the time of her death.
‘He didn’t have a way to pay his respects… he was by himself in a completely different continent. It just made it real.
‘A lot of the times we hear that people get it, they’re fine, they get through it, but when it hits home and it’s someone you know, it’s tough.
‘It becomes real and it’s harsh. It doesn’t give you time to say goodbye, you can’t see them and it hurts… you don’t expect it to be that quick.’
Last week, Oti revealed the tough separation she has faced from her family during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Separated: Earlier this week, Oti revealed the tough separation she has faced from her family during the global coronavirus pandemic
She explained that before the 2020 series of the BBC dance competition began last Autumn, she hadn’t seen Motsi since the final of the 2019 series thanks to travel restrictions.
Oti lives in the UK with her husband Marius Iepure, while Motsi is based in Germany with her husband Evgenij Voznyuk and their young daughter.
After Motsi flew home following the 2019 Strictly finale, the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020 meant the two sisters were separated until the 2020 series.
Tough: The Strictly pro spoke to Lorraine, revealing that she didn’t see Motsi, a judge on Strictly, for almost a year until the show reunited them
‘Actually the last time I had seen my sister was the Strictly final in 2019 and because of the travel bans I couldn’t go over to see her on her birthday,’ Oti explained to Lorraine.
‘We usually celebrate together so because of Strictly that was the only family member that I could actually see.’
Oti is also missing her family back home in South Africa, explaining: ‘I haven’t seen my family in about two years because they’re from South Africa and it’s currently not great in South Africa as well.’
‘So to have Strictly is another thing that I’m grateful for, even though we were in separate bubbles it was nice that I could actually see her and she was there.’
Oti added that the lack of travel has actually allowed her to connect with her extended family though, as she explained:
‘There’s opportunity to make new connections, to bond I know during the first lockdown we started Zooming weekly with the extended family, so first second and third cousins.’
Apart: After Motsi flew home following the 2019 Strictly finale, the coronavirus outbreak in early 2020 meant the two sisters were separated until the 2020 series (pictured)
‘Everyone got to know each other, all the children. Christmas was also spent on Zoom, it was the entire family so it gave us the opportunity to make more connections and deeper ones.’
Oti has also used technology to connect with her fans over the past year, leading online dance classes with her husband.
‘Honestly I haven’t done a lot of exercise so doing these dances helps me to do exercise,’ she laughed.
‘It’s about doing things that make you feel good in lockdown whether that’s dancing or projects, it’s really important whenever we are at home to do something you love.’
Relying on Zoom: Oti is also missing her family back home in South Africa, explaining: ‘I haven’t seen my family in about two years’ and adding they catch up on weekly Zoom calls
‘I am the kind of person who will eat crisps and watch Bridgeton, I think I’ve watched it maybe three times.’
Oti capped off 2020 with her second Strictly Come Dancing win in a row, picking up the Glitterball trophy with her celeb partner, comedian Bill Bailey.
‘I love how restrained he was and determined to do well. he’s doing my dance classes as well, which is amazing,’ she gushed of her partner.
But when Lorraine asked if she was aiming for a third win on the BBC show in 2021, she was modest, insisting: 6’I don’t know, I honestly never go for them I just focus on my celeb for that week. you made my heart pump there!’
Tune into Steph’s Packed Lunch at 12.30pm on Channel 4.
In the UK: Oti lives in the UK with her husband Marius Iepure, who is also a professional dancer