65 young maidens were killed in a crash in Swaziland while travelling to the famous traditional festival. The death toll in an accident in which dozens of young women were killed in Swaziland last Friday has reportedly risen to 65. Swaziland Solidarity Network spokesperson Lucky Lukhele told News24 that over 100 more had been hospitalised, some of them suffering serious injuries.
“Thirty-eight died at the scene,” Lukhele confirmed. Another 27 died in hospital, he said. In a statement, the SSN spokesperson said: “What saddens our network is the fact that the loss of life was avoidable. To begin with, carrying people in trucks is against traffic laws.”
Reports say the girls were at the back of an open truck when tragedy struck. Lukhele reiterated the network’s call for the reed dance to be cancelled. “It would be abhorrent if it should be allowed to go ahead,” Lukhele insisted. “The event should instead be turned into a prayer session where support can be given to the families who have been affected.”
EWN reported that the accident came a day before King Mswati III was due to choose a new wife. But the Times of Swaziland yesterday put the number at 13. The paper reported that the figure included 11 maidens and two male regiment leaders.
“This figure has been confirmed by court records, which detailed the charges against the truck driver, who has been charged with culpable homicide,” said the Times of Swaziland report. The newspaper said the 46-year-old man is a driver employed by the government of Swaziland.
The girls were killed on the Mbabane-Manzini highway while on their way to cut reeds for the annual Umhlanga reed dance. The paper also reported that the accident involved two trucks carrying the girls, and a Toyota van. Witnesses reportedly said traffic police officers pulled over the Toyota and the first truck smashed into it.
The second truck crashed into the back of the first truck.