The death of Nelson Mandela’s great-granddaughter cast a shadow over the opening day of the World Cup on Friday. South Africa’s former president Nelson Mandela, is mourning today following the death of his 13-year-old great granddaughter Zenani, who was killed in a car accident on the way home from a World Cup concert in Soweto Thursday night.
Zenani Mandela was killed after leaving Thursdays World Cup concert in Soweto headlined by Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas.
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 nation shares your loss and mourns with you, especially on the day on which our dreams and hopes come alive in the opening of the first FIFA World Cup on African soil,” President Jacob Zuma said in a message of condolence to Mandela.
Mandela had been expected to make a brief appearance at the World Cup opening ceremony Friday, depending on his health and the weather. But after announcing the death of his great-granddaughter, his foundation said he would not be going to the stadium.
“We are sure that South Africans and people all over the world will stand in solidarity with Mr. Mandela and his family in the aftermath of this tragedy,” a spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela foundation said. Mandela “will be there with you in spirit today.”
The tragedy was not a first for Mandela, who suffered the loss of his oldest son, Madiba Thembekile in a 1969 car crash, while he was imprisoned at Robben Island. Prison officials refused to allow Mandela to attend the funeral.
“I do not have words to express the sorrow, or the loss I felt,” Mandela wrote in his autobiography. “It left a hole in my heart that can never be filled.”
Thirty-six years later, Mandela announced his last surviving son, Makgatho, had died of AIDS-related complications, saying the only way to fight the disease’s stigma was to speak openly.
This is so sad. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mandela family.