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Mandela family death casts shadow over opening day

The great granddaughter of ex-president is killed in a car accident on the way home

The death of Nelson Mandela's granddaughter cast a shadow over the opening day of the World Cup yesterday, dampening the spirits of a nation proud and excited to be hosting the world's most popular sporting event.
Zenani Mandela, the 13-year-old great-granddaughter of the former South African President, was killed in a car accident on the way home from a World Cup concert in Soweto on Thursday night, where tens of thousands of people had sung and danced with headline music stars Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas.
Yesterday, streets in downtown Johannesburg were filled with cars and pedestrians waving South African flags and blowing vuvuzelas in the hours soon after dawn, as news that one of Mandela's nine great grandchildren was emerging. Heavy security was evident in Johannesburg and in Soweto, near the Soccer City stadium where South Africa was opening the tournament on Friday afternoon with a game against Mexico.
Johannesburg police spokeswoman Edna Mamonyane said the driver of the car involved in the one-car accident, a male, had been arrested and charged with drink-driving. Mamonyane said the driver, who police would not name, could also face culpable homicide charges.
"The Metro police found that he was drunk," Mamonyane said. "He lost control of the vehicle and it collided with a barricade."
The Nelson Mandela Foundation rejected media reports that the former president's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was in the car, although there were also reports she was treated in hospital for shock. "She was not in the car," foundation spokesman Sello Hatang told reporter.
Hatang asked that the Mandela family be given space to mourn. He said that it was too early to talk about whether Nelson Mandela, who turns 92 next month, would attend yesterday's opening match.
Mandela has largely retired from public life although as of Thursday it had been anticipated he would make a brief appearance at Soccer City yesterday, depending on his health and the weather conditions.
France, the losing finalist in Germany four years ago, was playing two-time champion Uruguay in the other Group A match later Friday in Cape Town.
In Rustenburg, England and the United States were holding official practice sessions Friday about 24 hours ahead of their opening match.
Diego Maradona's Argentina squad was holding its final practice session at Ellis Park ahead of its opening Group B match on Saturday against Nigeria.


Updated : 2021-10-27 17:26 GMT+08:00