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Mandela family in mourning

2010-06-11 10:39
Johannesburg - Former president Nelson Mandela and his family were plunged into mourning on Friday following the death of his great grandchild Zenani, hours before the start of the event that he is widely credited with bringing to South Africa.

"He will take it badly," said Sello Hatang, spokesperson for the Nelson Mandela Foundation as news spread that 13-year-old Zenani was killed when the car she was travelling in rolled on Johannesburg's M1 freeway shortly after midnight.

The driver of the car was arrested and was due to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on charges of drunken driving and culpable homicide on Friday.

Zenani celebrated her birthday two days ago and was on her way home from the Soccer World Cup kickoff concert at Orlando Stadium which featured local and international artists including teen favourites Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas.

Winnie treated for shock

Her mother, Zoleka Seakamela, was "devastated", said Vuyisile Mafalala, a family spokesperson.

Contrary to earlier conflicting police reports, neither Mandela's former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela nor Seakamela were in the car at the time of the crash.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said they had established that a female relative was in the car, but could not say who it was yet.

On hearing the news Madikizela-Mandela, who had attended the concert in a separate vehicle, was taken to Morningside Medi-Clinic to be treated for shock, said Mafalala.

Clinic spokesperson Natalie Jackson said she was admitted briefly, but due to patient confidentiality could not say more.

"Mrs Madikizela-Mandela is at her home recuperating. She was obviously devastated by the news of her great granddaughter," said Mafalala.

Zenani was Seakamela's oldest child and one of Mandela's nine great grandchildren.

Opening ceremony

Mandela travelled to Europe in 2004 shortly before the announcement that the country would host the World Cup and many believe it was "Madiba Magic" which brought it to the African continent.

Hopes had been high that Mandela would attend some of the matches, at least the opening match between Mexico and South Africa on Friday, but his family had thrown a protective ring around him and had said he would only attend if he was feeling well enough. It was not clear how the tragedy would affect his reported interest in attending.

Sky News reported that Mandela would not be attending the opening ceremony.

The ANC said it was "deeply saddened" by the tragedy.

"Our deepest condolences go to her family and close friends as they mourn this tragedy," said the party.

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