'Drunk' driver of bakkie arrested after death of 5 hitchhiking Limpopo schoolgirls

2019-11-07 11:11
The scene where 5 schoolgirls lost their lives when a bakkie they hitched a ride in rolled on Tuesday.

The scene where 5 schoolgirls lost their lives when a bakkie they hitched a ride in rolled on Tuesday. (Supplied)

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The driver of the bakkie that crashed near Groblersdal in Limpopo on Tuesday - claiming the lives of five girls who hitched a ride home after writing exams - has been arrested for suspected drunken driving.

News24 reported that the pupils - four in Grade 10 and one in Grade 9 and aged between 15 and 18 - died when the bakkie crashed along the R574 road between Groblersdal and Mpudulle at around 14:00.

According to police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, the driver will face five counts of culpable homicide, in addition to drunken driving. 

Mojapelo said the driver of the Nissan NP200 bakkie apparently lost control of the vehicle when approaching Matrompi bridge and it rolled several times, instantly killing the five pupils and critically injuring the driver and his crew. The injured were taken to hospital.

The driver and his crew were the only survivors of the crash.

"The deceased, all girls, were allegedly hitchhiking next to the local filling station and were given a lift by the driver of the said vehicle. They were coming from school to their respective residences at Sephaku and Kgaphamadi villages," Mojapelo said.

They have been identified as Beauty Motsweni and Pearl Rakgalakane from Sephaku; and Lucy Monareng, Chantel Monareng and Karabo Mogoaneng from Kgaphamadi.

'Deepest sorrow and devastation'

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 facing charges of drunken driving and culpable homicide.

Limpopo Education MEC Polly Boshielo expressed her "deepest sorrow and devastation" following the accident.

According to the department, the pupils had been hiking home after writing their Agricultural Science and English examinations.

Sending her deepest condolences to the families, Boshielo said: "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.

PICS | 5 Limpopo girls die when hitching ride home after exams

"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," Boshielo said.

According to a statement issued by the department, a psychosocial unit has been dispatched to provide trauma counselling to learners, teachers, support staff and the bereaved families.

The provincial commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Nneke Ledwaba, has strongly warned drivers to desist from drinking and driving as the police will be uncompromisingly determined to deal with drunk drivers during roadblocks and stop and searches.

Police investigations are continuing.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  accidents  |  crime
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