Johannesburg - The “shocking” Limpopo accident and blast that left four police officers and a truck driver dead on Thursday will be thoroughly investigated, acting government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said.
“It is indeed a sad day for government and the people of the country to have lost men in the line of duty,” said Williams.
“Government offers its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the deceased.”
Colonel Ronel Otto said the police officers were responding to an accident scene where a truck carrying groceries had crashed into the rear of another truck carrying explosives.
“While our members were attending to the scene, the truck carrying blasting cartridges, caught fire and exploded,” said Otto.
The driver of the truck containing the explosives was not harmed in the accident nor the explosion. The other truck driver, however, was killed.
It was unclear whether he died from the collision or the explosion.
Three other police officers were seriously injured in the blast.
Three motorists were also injured.
“The drivers of those vehicles were taken to hospital but they did not suffer any life-threatening injuries,” said Otto.
Williams said the incident should remind people of the important role police played in society.
“On a daily basis, they risk their own lives to fulfil their mission of protecting fellow citizens,” she said.
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega and Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa were expected to visit the families of the dead police officers.
The police officials would be accompanied by psychologists who would counsel the families.
Mthethwa conveyed his condolences.
“Our hearts are filled with grief and sorrow because our nation, the South African Police Service (SAPS), and the people of Limpopo have been robbed of these dedicated members,” said Mthethwa.
He wished a speedy recovery to those who were injured. - Sapa