Mandela will not attend Opening Ceremony

Friday, June 11, 2010

Johannesburg - Former President Nelson Mandela will not attend the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup this afternoon.

The SABC quoted a Nelson Mandela Foundation spokesperson as saying Mandela had learnt of the tragic death of his 13-year-old great-granddaughter and that it would be "inappropriate for him to attend the ceremony" as he was in mourning.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said on Friday morning that the grand-daughter of the former President's daughter Zinzi Mandela, Zenani, 13, had died in a car crash.

"Zenani Mandela was travelling in a car returning from the World Cup Kick-Off Concert at Orlando Stadium when the accident occurred. There was only one car involved and no one else was injured," said communication head at the foundation Sello Hatang.

Zenani, who celebrated her 13th birthday on Wednesday, was one of the former President's nine great-grandchildren.

This would signal a blow to the thousands of fans and the national soccer team Bafana Bafana who were looking forward to seeing South Africa's most popular citizen at the stadium.

Madiba was due to make a brief appearance at the celebrations before going home to watch the opening match between South Africa and Mexico.

Reports say the driver of the car has been arrested on charges of culpable homicide and drunken driving