Saturday 18 November 2017

Mandela attends funeral of great granddaughter

Aislinn Laing

Former South African President Nelson Mandela has attended the funeral of his great granddaughter Zenani who was killed in a car accident following the World Cup opening concert last week.

The 91-year-old Nobel Prize winner arrived early for the ceremony, in the chapel of 13-year-old Zenani's private school in an upmarket Johannesburg suburb, and was helped to a seat in the front row together with his third wife Graca.

Zenani was the granddaughter of Zindzi Mandela, the daughter of Mr Mandela and his second wife, 73-year-old Winnie Midikizela-Mandela.

She was said to be asleep when the car she was travelling overturned on the motorway near the concert venue in Soweto.

The driver of the car, Sizwe Mankazane, is the 23-year-old son of Zindzi's partner.

Mankazane, an international relations student in the US, was in South Africa for the World Cup. He was arrested following the crash and now faces charges of drunk driving and culpable homicide when he next appears in court on July 26.

Zenani's death cast a shadow over the opening of the tournament. Mr Mandela cancelled an appearance at the opening ceremony of the tournament in Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium Friday after learning of the accident.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was said to have been so devastated upon hearing the news that she was briefly taken to hospital for treatment of shock.

Hundreds of mourners packed into the chapel of the elite Methodist St Stithian's College north of Johannesburg where Zenani had been a member of the choir, the marimba club and drumming band. She played the piano and the saxophone and had told relatives she wanted to be a plastic surgeon. But she also reportedly said shortly before her death that she was so content with her life as it was that "if I die, I will die happy".

During the final of the Confederations Cup last year, the 13-year old carried the trophy to the pitch and placed it on the podium before it was presented to Brazil.

Sello Hakang, a spokesman for the Nelson Mandela Foundation said she had relished the arrival of the World Cup in South Africa and had enjoyed the national team's visit to Mandela at the foundation earlier this month.

"She went around excitedly asking team members to autograph her makarapa (cap)," he said.

"That was the week before she turned 13 and her crowning moment on her birthday was meeting Portugal's captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, at her grandfather's house."

Before she left for the concert on Thursday, Zenani told family she wanted to dance on stage with Shakira, one of the star acts at the concert.

"She will be dearly missed. Zenani did everything she put her mind to with a great deal of enthusiasm and determination," Hakang said.

The service will feature tributes from school friends and family and a performance by the Soweto gospel choir.

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