Confusion still reigns over death-toll in horror Swaziland accident

30 August 2015 - 17:56 By RDM News Wire

Confusion continues to reign over the number of people killed in a horrific truck accident in Swaziland on Friday. In the first official statement on the accident‚ posted on Sunday‚ the Royal Swaziland Police Service states on its website that 13 people were killed – two of them men‚ both aged 25‚ while the other victims were all young girls aged between 11 and 19.However‚ the rights group Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN)‚ quoting what it says are inside sources‚ claims that at least 65 young girls were killed in the crash.On Saturday‚ a posting on the police website stated that no fatal accidents had been reported in the past 24 hours. Sunday’s posting says that the next-of-kin of the victims have already been notified.SNN claimed on Saturday that‚ “as expected”‚ the media and the police had been barred from reporting extensively on the accident.The tragedy occurred on the Mbabane-Manzini Highway on Friday afternoon. The girls were on their way to the Swazi king’s royal residence to cut reeds for the annual Umhlanga Reed dance scheduled to take place on Sunday.According to the Times of Swaziland‚ they were apparently travelling in an open truck which smashed into another vehicle and was then hit in the rear by a second truck."We were about 50 on board the first truck that smashed into the Toyota van‚" said Siphelele Sigudla‚ 18‚ a survivor quoted by the Times of Swaziland.President Jacob Zuma sent a message of condolence to King Mswati III and the Swaziland government on Sunday.“The South African Government sends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the Government and the people of the Kingdom of Swaziland following the tragic loss of young lives and shares in the mourning of the families‚ as well as the relatives of the deceased. We wish the injured speedy recoveries‚" said President Zuma.SNN on Saturday called for the traditional reed dance to be cancelled with immediate effect and the celebration to be turned instead into a prayer service to mourn the maidens who died in the accident.“The least that the royal family can do at this moment is to cancel this year’s reed dance and admit its responsibility in this horrific accident by helping these families bury their children‚” the rights group said in a statement.It is not immediately known whether the ceremony went ahead as scheduled on Sunday. The king often chooses a new wife at the ceremony.

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