Mandela grandchildren unharmed after gun attack on his 92nd birthday, South African police say

By Tshego Letshwiti, AP
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mandela grandchildren unhurt after gun attack

JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela’s grandchildren underwent a harrowing ordeal with gunmen following the South African icon’s 92nd birthday party, but no one was hurt and the attackers fled after an exchange of gunfire, police said Thursday.

Police spokesman Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said the grandchildren were returning to their Johannesburg home following the family birthday party Sunday when two gunmen approached their car. They ordered the occupants to lie down near the entrance to the home of Mandela’s daughter Zindzi.

One fired a shot and the family driver returned fire.

Armed carjackings are common in South Africa, which has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world.

Mariemuthoo said police investigations were continuing and no further information was being released.

South African media reported Thursday that expended cartridge cases were collected from the scene by security agents after the incident and a suspected getaway car used by the attackers was later recovered northwest of Johannesburg. Police refused to comment on those reports.

Last month, Mandela’s great-grandaughter Zenani, 13, died in a car crash on the way home from the FIFA World Cup opening concert. The driver of the car is scheduled to appear in court on Monday to face homicide and drunk driving charges.

During the World Cup, Mandela greeted soccer fans prior to the final match in a rare public appearance. Driven in a small golf cart and seated alongside wife, the smiling, warmly dressed Mandela was welcomed by a thunderous mix of vuvuzelas and roars from the crowd. He shook hands with officials before leaving the field a few minutes later.

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