President Jacob Zuma has called on law enforcement authorities to swiftly investigate the cause of the accident that killed 19 school pupils in Bronkhorstspruit, outside Pretoria.
The school children, who attended Refano Primary School and Mahlenga High School, perished when their minibus taxi collided head-on with a truck and caught fire on the R25 between Verena and Bronkhorstpruit on Friday afternoon. Several children had been burnt beyond recognition due to the fire.
Seven children survived the accident and have been taken to various hospitals. Three are said to be in a critical condition.
“This is a sad and painful tragedy, taking place just when the country is coming to terms with a number of lives that have been lost during the Easter weekend.
“On behalf of government and all South Africans we extend our heartfelt condolences to families of the leaners, relatives and friends,” President Zuma said.
The president also called on all road users in the country to be more vigilant and adhere to the road rules and take safety precautions seriously to avoid unnecessary loss of life,” the President Zuma said.
Meanwhile, Parliament has also expressed its condolences to the families of the pupils and described the incident “the most heart-breaking and traumatic moments in our country.”
Parliament said the accident added to the increasing number of fatalities on South African roads during April. Preliminary road accident statistics for the Easter period show a 51% increase in road deaths bringing the number to 235 lives lost.
The department of Education says it will work together with the Education Departments of Gauteng and Mpumalanga to support the families throughout the trying time.