Online beauty influencer Maja Janeska, who has more than 1.2 million followers on Instagram, was found dead in what local media and family members described as “mysterious circumstances”.
Janeska, 39, was found with gunshot wounds to the head at her luxury home on the Basonia estate in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Dec. 2, police investigators said.
“After arriving at the address given, police found a woman in her bedroom with a gunshot wound to the head,” police spokesman Lt. Col. Mavela Masondo said in a statement.
“There was a gun next to her. The woman was confirmed dead by paramedics.”
The celebrity makeup artist and online content creator, known to her followers as “Maya Mia,” is reportedly dating and living with “cigarette tycoon” Kyle Phillips, co-director of Johannesburg-based tobacco manufacturer Carnilinx.
Phillips – who was reportedly “devastated and appalled by the tragedy” – told authorities he was brushing his teeth in the bathroom when he heard gunshots in his bedroom.
Asked who owned the gun, Lieutenant Colonel Massondo fell silent, adding: “The police cannot comment on that at this time because it could jeopardize the investigation.”
However, police did confirm they had launched an investigation into the influencer’s death, adding that the stunning brunette’s death was “not being treated as suspicious at this time”.
Meanwhile, Phillips told local media he was hiring his own pathologist to conduct an autopsy.
A “heartbroken” family member told South African media News24 that Janiska sometimes “feared for her life” – fearing being murdered.
“Our phone keeps ringing — it’s all new to us,” said the relative, who requested anonymity to protect his safety. “We’re in Europe, but we can’t come to South Africa because of visa issues, so there’s nothing we can do. [Janeska] Lying in the morgue, we have no idea what actually happened. “
The family member added that they learned of her death from a former co-worker of Phillips, who allegedly claimed a suicide was now suspected.
“She fears for her life at times. Her boyfriend has men working for him and she’s afraid of them too,” the anonymous relative told News24 at the time of reports that Phillips was “with bodyguards” and refused to accept the state disease. On-site inspection by physicists. “We’re devastated and we really don’t know what to do.”
Julius Malema, leader of the South African Economic Freedom Fighters party and “close friend” of Janeska’s cigarette tycoon boyfriend, spoke about Janeska’s death at a news conference.
“I haven’t spoken to Kyle, but I know her well,” Malema told local news outlets. “We are friends. She is a very lovely lady with a vision, she has very good plans for the continent and country and holds our leadership in high regard.”
Nine days before her death, Janeska told college students in a guest lecture that she had moved to Tanzania when she was 19 to work in a hotel, according to Jam Press. During that time, she became “fluent in Swahili” and began her career as a makeup artist and stylist.
In her last Instagram post, on Nov. 22, Janeska was pictured with North Macedonian Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani. She said the meeting was aimed at “establishing diplomatic relations between my home country, the Republic of North Macedonia, and my adopted home, the Republic of South Africa”.
Meanwhile, Malema appeared to be skeptical that Janeska committed suicide during his public press conference.
“I never felt like she was the kind of person who would kill herself. She was unafraid to speak her mind openly, and they loved each other,” he said. “There was nothing to suggest that there was an insurmountable problem that required suicide. I don’t think there was that. It was a shock.”