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South African was due to perform at opening ceremony…

South African opera singer Siphiwo Ntshebe has died from meningitis, his record label Epic Records has announced.

The 34-year-old, who was chosen by Nelson Mandela to perform at the opening ceremony of the World Cup, was admitted to hospital last week and died on Tuesday in Port Elizabeth.

Ntshebe was due to perform his new track 'Hope' at the opening ceremony on June 11, which was to be released - along with his new album - at the same time of the World Cup, to coincide with the tournament.

Boss of Epic Records Nick Raphael said: "He had a truly wondrous voice and his music was unique in its melodies and its messages of hope and compassion."

Epic said that Ntshebe’s family wanted his music "to be heard by as wide an audience as possible", while they have received a message of condolence from FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

"I am very sad indeed to hear this news," read a statement from Blatter on FIFA's official website.

"This young man, whose talent had been identified and supported by no less than Nelson Mandela was about to showcase that talent to millions of people around the world. That he should pass away so suddenly, and so close to the opening of the first FIFA World Cup to be hosted on African soil is very cruel, but we are not master of our destiny."

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