June 12, 2010

World Cup kick-off marred by Mandela family tragedy

South Africa celebrated the kick-off Friday of the first ever World Cup tournament to be held on the African continent but the nation's icon Nelson Mandela, now 91, had to cancel his appearance at the opening ceremony in front of 90,000 at Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg.

The reason: His 13-year-old great granddaughter, Zenani Mandela, was killed in a car crash after attending Thursday's night World Cup kick-off concert in Soweto.

According to a statement from the Nelson Mandela Foundation, "Zenani 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."

The Mandela Foundation said the family had asked for privacy. Zenani, who celebrated her birthday two days ago, was a granddaughter of Zinzi Mandela, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's daughter.

Ex-wife Winnie was also in the car.

The driver had been arrested and police were investigating a case of culpable homicide.

Meanwhile, South Africa played Mexico to a 1-1 draw in the World Cup opener in front of a raucous and emotional home crowd.

The Bafana Bafana, ranked No. 83 in world football standing, had a dream start when Siphiwe Tshabalala put them in the lead in the 55th minute. Mexico, ranked 17th in the world, managed to equalize 24 minutes later with a Rafael Marquez goal.

In the other later Group A match between France and Uruguay, the result was 0-0 which means all four teams in the same group have a point each.

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