Mandela To Miss World Cup Opener As Great-granddaughter Dies

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June 11, 2010 | 5:14am EST

Former South African leader Nelson Mandela will miss the World Cup opening game on Friday after his great-granddaughter was killed in a car crash on her way back from the tournament’s launch concert on Thursday night.
Zenani Mandela died a day after her 13th birthday after she was involved in a one-car accident on her way back from the gig, which was headlined by the Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys and Shakira.

No one else was injured in the crash, but the unnamed male driver of the vehicle has allegedly been arrested and charged with drink-driving.

Johannesburg Metro police spokeswoman Edna Mamonyane says, “The Metro police found that he was drunk. He lost control of the vehicle and it collided with a barricade.”

Representatives at The Nelson Mandela Foundation have confirmed Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie was not in the car, but she has been treated for shock at a hospital after being informed of Zenani’s death.

Mandela was reportedly told of the loss on Friday morning – just hours before he was due to attend the first soccer game of the competition.

A statement from the foundation reads, “It would therefore be inappropriate for him to personally attend the 2010 Fifa World Cup opening celebrations… The family has asked for privacy as they mourn this tragedy.”

Mandela greeted the Black Eyed Peas as they arrived in South Africa earlier this week ready to perform at the Thursday night concert.