KwaZulu-Natal - Six people on their way to a funeral died and nine were critically injured at the weekend when their bakkie rolled several times on the R61 near Margate before crashing into a tree.

They had been travelling from Clairwood to Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape.

Thomas Thamsanqa, who was part of the group, said the bakkie had been behind his car. It had accelerated past, overtaking a car ahead of them.

“I could see the bakkie veering off the road and hitting the pavement several times,” he said.

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spokesman Chris Botha said four people died at the scene.

“After the injured were stabilised they were transported to the Port Shepstone Hospital,” he said.

Matron Celeste Pienaar said two more died in hospital.

“Several suffered head injuries, two are stable and one suffered a fractured pelvis,” Pienaar said

“Some of the patients will be transferred to I[nkosi] Albert Luthuli [Central] Hospital for tests.”

Thamsanqa said many of the dead and injured were his friends and neighbours.

KwaZulu-Natal transport and safety spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said a team had been set up to assist grieving family members. MEC Willies Mchunu sent his condolences to the families.

“We are approaching the festive season, I appeal to motorists to respect the law and assist in reducing road deaths,” he said. - The Mercury