Grieving Mandela to miss World Cup opener

JOHANNESBURG: A grief-stricken Nelson Mandela pulled out of the World Cup opening Friday after the death of his great granddaughter cast a tragic shadow over the start of the world''s biggest sporting event.

Thirteen-year-old Zenani Mandela was killed in a car that overturned in Johannesburg as it took her home from a spectacular eve of tournament concert in Soweto. South African police said the driver was drunk.

"Mr Nelson Mandela this morning learned of the tragic death in an accident of his great-granddaughter," said a statement from the former president''s foundation.

"It would therefore be inappropriate for him to personally attend the FIFA World Cup opening celebrations. Mandela is 91 and has been in frail health.

"We are sure that South Africans and people all over the world will stand in solidarity with Mr Mandela and his family in the aftermath of this tragedy. Madiba will be there with you in spirit today."

The driver, said by Mandela''s office to be a family member, was charged with culpable homicide and drunk driving, according to police.