Six people were injured in a crowd crush at Cape Town’s main World Cup fan zone overnight when thousands of fans attempted to get into the venue. Meanwhile thousands of people rocked Orlando Stadium in Soweto last night at the first-ever World Cup concert. The event was marred, however, by the death of former President Nelson Mandela’s great-grandchildren Zenani Mandela in a car accident afterwards. Mandela will now no longer attend today’s opening.
In Cape Town, all the injured were South African, a city spokesman says. “People were anxious to get in and just surged ahead. Fortunately it was a contained incident and calm was restored quickly,” city spokesman Pieter Cronje said. The Grand Parade viewing area is the largest of 10 special fan zones scattered across South Africa’s Western Cape province.
Cronje said an estimated 16 500 people had streamed to the venue in Cape Town’s city centre to see a concert and fireworks display ahead of Africa’s first hosting of the tournament. Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said police tried to warn the public through loudhailers that the viewing area was full, but they continued pushing forward. “People at the back then kept moving forward and a crush ensued,” Van Wyk said in a statement. Three people were injured, one man suffered a broken leg and two women sustained broken ankles.
It is the second crowd incident in a week. At least 15 people were injured Sunday in Tembisa,east of Johannesburg, when fans tried to force their way into a match between Nigeria and North Korea.
Meanwhile thousands of people rocked Orlando Stadium in Soweto last night, singing in harmony at the first World Cup concert on the eve of the world’s most watched sporting event. Concert-goers clapped and cheered amidst almost freezing temperatures as footballers, local and international singing stars took to the stage, the first time such a music event has been held as part of the World Cup opening.
“The whole world has come to Soweto… and football was one of the things that helped people realise that we are connected — that wonderful game that brought a country together,” will.i.am of the U.S. group Black Eyed Peas told Reuters before the band opened the colourful showcase of African music in collaboration with international artists. “This is humanity coming together.”
The concert was broadcast live around the world, and stars included Alicia Keys, Angelique Kidjo and Vusi Mahlasela. Colombian pop star Shakira will sing the official World Cup anthem “Waka Waka (This time for Africa)” with South African group Freshly Ground.
Children and the elderly alike waved South African flags and sang “Shosholoza”, the popular local tune sung mostly at soccer matches. The scene in the 30 000 capacity stadium was reminiscent of 1995, when South Africa, recently free from decades of apartheid rule, won the rugby World Cup. The tournament was widely seen as uniting a country long divided along racial lines.
Sadly, former South African President Nelson Mandela’s 13-year-old great granddaughter was killed in a car crash early this morning after leaving the concert. Mandela, 91, is widely credited with helping South Africa win the World Cup bid in 2004 and South Africans have been hoping he might be able to attend the opening match this afternoon despite his frail health.
Zenani Mandela, killed two days after her birthday, was one of Mandela’s nine great-grandchildren.
“Zenani Mandela, 13, was travelling in a car returning from the World Cup Kick-Off Concert at Orlando Stadium when the accident occurred,” a statement from the Foundation said. “There was only one car involved and no one else was injured.” Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was in the car, the South African Press Association quoted police as saying. Police spokesman Noxolo Kweza said the driver had been arrested and police were investigating a case of culpable homicide. The Mandela Foundation said the family had asked for privacy. Zenani was a grand-daughter of Zindzi Mandela, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s daughter.