Johannesburg - The five officers had just knocked off from their Rooigrond correctional centre 6am to 4.30pm shift and were on their way back home to Mahikeng.
A head-on collision on Monday between their car and a police officer’s vehicle claimed the lives of all the men.
Four Correctional Services officers - Tiisetso Motsamai, Charles Sekgobela, Luncedo Thangela and Simon Lesajane - died at the scene, while their colleague Johannes Moruledi died on the way to Victoria private hospital.
“A car carrying five correctional officials had a head-on collision with a police car, leaving the six officials dead, five of them on the accident scene while the sixth was declared dead at hospital,” Sapa reported police spokesman Lawrence Ngoveni as saying. The unidentified driver of the police car was alone and died instantly.
Details of what exactly happened were still unclear on Tuesday.
A colleague of the dead men said: “It’s sad that nobody will really know what exactly happened.”
Moruledi’s son Lebogang said: “The five men had started a lift club as they all lived in the same area in Mmabatho and wanted to save on travel costs.”
Moruledi joined the lift club after his Honda Ballade was crushed when he hit a cow.
“His car was in an accident on the same road about two or three years ago. He started using the car pool thereafter,” Lebogang said.
Close family friend Thando Mabaso said the road had claimed the lives of many of her friends and relatives.
“I just wish that road would close down. So many people have lost their lives because of that road,” Mabaso added.
Nomalanga Moruledi said her husband was a hardworking man who had served his community.
“We always loved to make jokes and play together. He loved cooking and decor, he was a jack of all trades,” she said.
The police have confirmed they are investigating a case of culpable homicide.
North West’s provincial commissioner has sent her condolences to the families of the dead men.
“Our hearts are with the families of all deceased in this difficult time,” Lieutenant-General Zukiswa Mbombo said.
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha also expressed his sympathy and sent condolences.
“I am shocked and pained by this tragic accident. It has cut short the lives of our correctional officials and a policeman, leaving their families with this immense loss,” he said.
Chris Hattingh, the DA’s North West provincial leader, called the R501 the “road of death”.