Blat­ter laments Man­dela tragedy

‘Fa­tal car crash un­speak­ably tragic’, says Fifa pres­i­dent

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PEOPLE - WEEK­END AR­GUS RE­PORTERS and SAPA-AP

FIFA pres­i­dent Sepp Blat­ter has writ­ten to Nel­son Man­dela, de­scrib­ing the death of the for­mer pres­i­dent’s 13-year-old great-grand­daugh­ter in a car crash as “un­speak­ably tragic”.

Blat­ter said he un­der­stood that the 91-year-old Man­dela could not at­tend the World Cup open­ing cer­e­mony and the host nation’s match against Mex­ico yes­ter­day but that Man­dela was “with us in spirit for which we are in­cred­i­bly grate­ful”.

Ad­dress­ing Man­dela as a “most pre­cious friend”, Blat­ter said the en­tire foot­ball world mourned his fam­ily’s loss.

Ze­nani Man­dela died in a one-car ac­ci­dent af­ter at­tend­ing the World Cup kick­off con­cert on Thurs­day evening at Or­lando Sta­dium in Soweto.

Man­dela’s for­mer wife, Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela, re­port­edly had also at­tended the con­cert sep­a­rately and had to be rushed to hos­pi­tal to be treated for shock on hear­ing the news.

Po­lice ar­rested the driver, who has not been named, but later re­leased him and are in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Ze­nani is the niece of an­other child struck by tragedy – Ke­fuoe Seakamela, 7, who drowned at a school swim­ming pool in Joburg in 2008.

Ze­nani, who car­ried the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup tro­phy to the pitch and placed it on the podium be­fore it was pre­sented to Brazil last year, died just two days af­ter turn­ing 13.

She is be­lieved to have at­tended St Stithi­ans Col­lege in Bryanston in the north­ern sub­urbs of Jo­han­nes­burg.

Seakamela fam­ily mem­bers, who did not wish to be named, said yes­ter­day Ze­nani was a “bril­liant young girl”.

They were mourn­ing her death and fu­neral ar­range­ments have yet to be fi­nalised.

“She was so flex­i­ble. She loved chil­dren. She was a beau­ti­ful girl in and out.

“We have lost a bril­liant child,” the fam­ily mem­ber said.

“She loved chil­dren and made friends so eas­ily. It is a loss to the fam­ily.”

The Satur­day Star, Week­end Ar­gus’s sis­ter pub­li­ca­tion, un­der­stands that Ze­nani’s mother, Zoleka, is a daugh­ter of Zindzi Man­dela from a re­la­tion­ship she had with Oupa Seakamela, Ke­fuoe’s fa­ther.

His re­la­tion­ship with Zindzi hap­pened years be­fore he mar­ried Ke­fuoe’s mother, Bon­iswa.

Zoleka and Ze­nani are be­lieved to have been stay­ing at Zindzi’s Sand­ton home.

She was named af­ter Zindzi’s sis­ter.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Sbu Nde­bele sent con­do­lences to the fam­ily and ap­pealed to road users to obey the rules of the road.

The ANC and Cosatu also ex­tended their sym­pa­thies to Ze­nani’s fam­ily.

Inkatha Free­dom Party leader Man­go­suthu Buthelezi also sent his con­do­lences.

He said: “It is heart-wrench­ing that some­thing as joy­ous as at­tend­ing the 2010 soc­cer World Cup open­ing con­cert could have such dis­as­trous con­se­quences.

“On be­half of my fam­ily and the IFP, I would like to ex­tend my sin­cer­est and heart­felt con­do­lences to the Man­dela fam­ily.”

The SA Com­mu­nist Party said it was sad­dened by the news be­cause it knew how much Man­dela loved his great­grand­chil­dren.

PIC­TURE: NEL­SON MAN­DELA FOUN­DA­TION/ DEB­BIE YAZBEK

HAP­PIER TIMES: Ze­nani Man­dela, above, and at Nel­son Man­dela’s 91st birth­day on July 18, 2009.

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