Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. File Photo: Sizwe Ndingane

Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga sent condolences on Monday to the families of ten pupils killed in a weekend crash in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal.

“Losing such young children, whose bright futures we were looking forward to, is indeed very sad,” said Motshekga in a statement.

Ten pupils of the Okhombe Primary School were killed when their taxi collided with a cow and then fell into a river on Saturday.

The children were all under 13-years-old.

Motshekga said the department would provide all surviving pupils and affected families with the necessary counselling.

Transport Minister Ben Martins wished the injured a speedy recovery and described the accident as shocking.

“We are terribly shocked and saddened at the news of these horrific incidents...the loss of such innocent lives on our roads is completely unnecessary,” he said in a statement.

He encouraged the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to determine the exact cause of the accident.

“We urge our traffic law enforcement officers to leave no stone unturned in their investigation of these crashes.”

School trips were reportedly banned in KwaZulu-Natal after news of the accident.

The Mercury reported that provincial education MEC Senzo Mchunu made the announcement on Sunday while addressing grieving families of the children who were killed.

The Democratic Alliance in the province criticised the move.

“Mchunu's edict to immediately ban all school excursions in the province is a cry from a man desperate in the face of a department unwilling or unable to take responsible action at their level of authority,” said KwaZulu-Natal DA MPP Tom Stokes. - Sapa