This collision involving a bus and a minibus taxi on the R81 near Maphalle Village in Limpopo claimed 24 lives. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says ‘the law must bite’ motorists who drive while drunk, killing scores of people on South African roads.

In Limpopo alone, at least 42 people were killed this long weekend in crashes.

On Sunday evening, a bus carrying people who had attended the government’s Youth Day celebrations in Polokwane, 24 lives were lost when a bus and a minibus taxi crashed on the R81 in Maphalle, Limpopo.

President Cyril Ramaphosa sent his condolences and expressed devastation and sadness on Monday.

“The deaths of these people is heartbreaking. It is absolutely devastating to lose so many young lives in this manner. On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, I send our deepest condolences to the bereaved families during this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are also with the injured, we wish them a speedy recovery”, said Ramaphosa.

Mbalula, who visited the crash site and addressed traffic officers in Limpopo on Tuesday, told officers that drunk drivers were criminals that needed to be arrested.

“We need to increase traffic officers on the ground, improve their employment conditions and ensure they operate 24/7,” he said.

He said traffic officers needed to be visible and not hide on South African roads.

“Do not hide, be visible on the road - our job is deterrence and catching those who ignore and break the law,” he said.

“Do not take bribes such is corruption and is reason amongst others that we have such high rates of road fatalities,” he added.

Mbalula urged the traffic officers to be responsible and to prevent loss of lives on the roads. He said their jobs were a responsibility to protect the lives of those using South African roads.

Limpopo’s Transport MEC Namane Dickson Masemola told eNCA on Monday that at least 42 people had been killed in accidents.

"From Friday to date, we lost about 42 people in the province. This is very tragic, it's something that will continue to affect us terribly," the MEC said.

The Sunday Independent