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South Africa news

Mandela great-granddaughter killed

June 11, 2010

The opening of the World Cup in South Africa has been marred by the death of Nelson Mandela's great-granddaughter in a car crash.

Nelson Mandela
GettyImagesNelson Mandela was due to attend the opening ceremony of the World Cup.

The former South African president will not attend Friday's opening ceremony at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium as planned.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said Zenani Mandela, 13, was killed on the way home from Thursday night's Soweto concert heralding the launch of the tournament, which is being held in Africa for the first time.

The girl apparently died in a one-car accident and no-one else was injured.

Mandela was expected to take some part in Friday's opening day festivities, although his family were worried about his health.

Zenani, who celebrated her 13th birthday on June 9, was one of the anti-apartheid icon's nine great-grandchildren. The foundation said in a statement: "The family has asked for privacy as they mourn this tragedy.''

Tummi Shai, a police spokeswoman, said that a case of probable homicide – not unusual in traffic accidents where negligence is suspected - had been opened. She would not give any further details, including the location of the accident.

It had been hoped that Mandela, who is 92 on July 18, would make a brief appearance at the ceremony.