Nelson Mandela's second Aids benefit concert in South Africa has taken place, boasting a star-studded line-up including US comic Will Smith and British rockers Annie Lennox and Queen.

Yesterday's gig (19MAR05) was hosted by Smith, and featured performers such as popular jazz singer Katie Melua and soul star India.ARIE as well as South African artists, including JOHNNY CLEGG, MAFIKIZOLO and KABELO.

The event, a follow up to 2003's extravaganza, was a triumphant success, raising $1.6million (GBP832,000) thanks to money donated via text messages.

The theme was Women And Aids, with money raised going to the NELSON MANDELA FOUNDATION to stamp out HIV. The disease is a particular concern in South Africa as South African women are six times more likely to contract the virus than men.

Former EURYTHMICS singer Lennox spoke out at the concert, "In this society women are powerless and vulnerable to the whims of men who refuse to practice safe sex and use condoms."

Hollywood hunk Brad Pitt apologised for not being able to attend, but sent a video message to the concert.

Mandela, 86, told the 20,000 strong crowd, "I would love to enjoy the peace and quiet of retirement but I know that, like many of you, I cannot rest easily while our beloved continent is ravaged by a deadly epidemic.

"For every woman and girl violently attacked, we reduce our humanity. For every moment we remain silent, we conspire against our women. For every woman infected by HIV, we destroy a generation."

20/03/2005 14:56