JOHANNESBURG: Nelson Mandela’s great grand-daughter was killed in a car crash on Friday hours before the World Cup kicks off in South Africa, a tragic note amid revelry for the biggest sports event the continent has held.

Former President Mandela, 91, is credited with helping South Africa win the World Cup bid in 2004 as well as ending apartheid, and South Africans hoped he would be at the opening match between the hosts and Mexico despite his frail health.

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Zenani Mandela, killed two days after her 13th birthday, was one of Mandela’s nine great-grandchildren. The car crashed after a concert by a bevy of international and local stars at a stadium in the Soweto township outside Johannesburg.

“The family has asked for privacy as they mourn this tragedy,” the Nelson Mandela Foundation said.

The death cast a cloud on the unprecedented rush of excitement in South Africa, which was tormented for years by negative and even domestic pessimism that the world’s most watched sporting event was too big for Africa to handle.

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