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Driver in bakkie crash that killed five Limpopo pupils was drunk: police

06 November 2019 - 20:48 By Naledi Shange
The driver of this bakkie, in which five pupils were killed when it overturned, has been charged with drunk driving.
The driver of this bakkie, in which five pupils were killed when it overturned, has been charged with drunk driving.
Image: Supplied

Criminal charges have been laid against the man who was behind the wheel of the Nissan NP200 bakkie that overturned, sending five children sitting in the back flying from the vehicle, Limpopo police said on Wednesday.

The five pupils died in the incident, which took place on Tuesday on the R57 between Groblersdal and Mpudulle.

“The driver of the vehicle has been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. He will also face five counts of culpable homicide,” said Brig Motlafela Mojapelo

The five girls who lost their lives were all pupils of AM Mashego Secondary School in Monsterlus. They were declared dead on the scene after the bakkie rolled several times.

“The driver and his crew were the only survivors of the crash. The 29-year-old suspect is currently under police guard in hospital and will appear in absentia in the Nebo Magistrate's Court on Thursday,” said Mojapelo.

It was alleged that the girls got a lift from the driver after hitchhiking next to a filling station after writing their exams.

The driver was reported to have lost control as he approached the Matrompi bridge.

Following the incident, Limpopo education MEC Polly Boshielo expressed her shock and sadness.

“The department learnt today [Tuesday] that the learners, four in grade 10 and one in grade 9, met their untimely death ... after hiking a lift to take them home,” she said in a statement.

“We are deeply saddened. Our hearts are heavy and we accordingly send our deepest heartfelt condolences to the families of our learners and the school community. This is a very difficult time for all of us, friends and relatives of these learners. We lack the necessary words at this point in time. We must be united in this time of grief.”

The department’s psychosocial unit will provide trauma counselling to the bereaved families, as well as affected pupils, educators and support staff.

Limpopo police commissioner Lt-Gen Nneke Ledwaba condemned the incident and warned drivers not to drink and drive.