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Ladysmith - The Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal has expressed shock after the deaths of five teachers in Ladysmith on Tuesday.

Earlier, it was reported that gunmen had ambushed the deputy chairperson of the Klipriver Taxi Association as he was travelling in a bakkie on the N11 with other four occupants. The bakkie driver lost control of the vehicle and it plunged into a minibus taxi carrying teachers from a local school.

According to KwaZulu-Natal provincial police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele, gunmen travelling in two vehicles fired shots at them with high calibre firearms. 

"The victims lost control of their vehicle and crashed into an oncoming minibus taxi," said Mbhele. 

"This is one of the most heart-breaking and traumatic moments in our province," MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane said.

"Our condolences go to all the families of the bereaved, their friends and loved ones and to the teaching fraternity as a whole. Condolences also go to all members of the community who have lost those they dearly love due to accidents on the roads."

DA KZN leader Zwakele Mncwango also conveyed his condolences to the victims' families.

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"This incident... comes just a week after the province was identified as a murder hot-spot, with a shocking 4014 cases of murder between April 2016 and March 2017.

"According to the annual crime statistic released last week, taxi violence is one of the reasons for the province’s 2.2% murder increase over the past year."

Mncwango slammed the South African Police Service (SAPS) for its lack of intervention in the scourge of taxi violence in the province.

He added that while it was "all good and well that the police, in the aftermath of this massacre, hastily appointed a taxi violence task team", nothing concrete had been done to prevent the tragedy.

Mncwango called on Police MEC Mxolisi Kaunda to ensure that the KZN SAPS is equipped and capable to deal with these incidents. 

Mbhele said a docket of five counts of murder, culpable homicide was opened at Elangslaagte police station. "It will be transferred to the Provincial Taxi Task Team for investigation."

He added that no arrests had been made and that the motive of the attack is subject to an ongoing investigation.