Blatter laments Mandela tragedy
‘Fatal car crash unspeakably tragic’, says Fifa president
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.
HAPPIER TIMES: Zenani Mandela, above, and at Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday on July 18, 2009.