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Durban - President Jacob Zuma has offered his condolences after 10 people died in a bus crash after the annual reed dance festival in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend.
“We are shocked and saddened by this tragic and horrific loss of life in this manner following a successful cultural event that promotes self-confidence among young women,” Zuma said in a statement on Monday.
The ceremony had taken place at the Nyokeni Royal Palace.
Seven young women who had participated at the reed dance, two women who had accompanied them as guardians, and the driver of the bus died on Sunday when it overturned on the R66 near Nkwalini between Melmoth and Eshowe.
“Our hearts go out to His Majesty King [Goodwill] Zwelithini, the families, relatives and the community as a whole,” he said.
According to Netcare 911 officials, 62 others had been injured when the bus overturned, slid down the road and smashed into steel barriers.
“Paramedics... arrived at the scene and found that the barriers had pierced through the front of the bus,” said Netcare spokesman Chris Botha.
KwaZulu-Natal transport MEC Willies Mchunu would visit the accident scene on Monday to get an update on the investigations.
Spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said he would also go to the Eshowe mortuary to meet with the families of the deceased to convey his condolences, and to begin a process of identifying how government could assist the families who had lost their children.
Provincial Democratic Alliance leader Sizwe Mchunu welcomed the announcement that the transport department was committed to a full investigation.
“This tragedy must be fully probed and the outcome made available to the family members of the deceased in a bid to help them find closure in the difficult weeks that lie ahead,” Mchunu said.
Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said his thoughts were with the families who had lost their loved ones.
“Our thoughts are with the young maidens, and with our faithful women who died while travelling as their companions and guardians.
“We think also of the bus driver, who lost his life, and of the many that were injured in this accident,” Buthelezi said.
United Democratic Movement secretary general Bongani Msomi conveyed the party's condolences to king Zwelithini and the families of the deceased.
“Their deaths cannot be in vain since they were promoting moral values in this generation which faces many negative challenges.
“They also took pride in their culture and they will always be remembered,” he said.