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Mandela to skip World Cup opening after great-grandchild dies in wreck

By the CNN Wire Staff
Zenani Mandela, wearing green, with her great-grandfather and other family members in a photo taken on August 17, 2009.
Zenani Mandela, wearing green, with her great-grandfather and other family members in a photo taken on August 17, 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mandela played key role in bringing World Cup to South Africa
  • Great-granddaughter died in wreck after World Cup kick-off concert
  • Driver charged with drunk driving, police said
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(CNN) -- Former South African President Nelson Mandela will not attend Friday's opening of the World Cup soccer tournament after the death of his great-grandchild in a car crash, a representative said.

"It would therefore be inappropriate for him to personally attend the FIFA World Cup opening celebrations," said Sello Hatang, from the Mandela Foundation.

"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."

Zenani Mandela, 13, died early Friday morning while returning from the World Cup soccer tournament's kick-off concert, the foundation said. She was in a car returning from the show at Orlando Stadium when the wreck occurred.

No other vehicle was involved in the wreck, the foundation said.

The driver was arrested for culpable homicide and drunk driving, police told CNN.

Zenani turned 13 on Wednesday. She was one of Mandela's nine great-grandchildren.

The former leader had been expected to attend Friday's World Cup kickoff, his grandson Nkosi Mandela confirmed on Tuesday.

Mandela, who is 91, played a key role in bringing the World Cup to South Africa but has made limited public appearances recently, although he did meet the South Africa squad last week.

 
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