Dozens of virgin girls and young women were killed as they traveled to the traditional festival where the King of Swaziland is know to pick a new bride from thousands of topless, dancing virgins.
The tragic accident, which happened along the MR3 Highway, Mahhala, involved two trucks, which were ferrying maidens and a sedan.
According to Times of Swaziland, at least 38 of them died when the open-topped truck collided with another vehicle, before being hit by a second truck as it travelled along a motorway between the Swazi cities of Mbabane and Manzini on Friday afternoon.
The girls were all taking part in the Swazi Reed Dance Festival, an annual event which sees tens of thousands of unmarried girls – or ‘maidens’ – perform for King Mswati III.
Last year, he plucked a 19-year-old virgin from the dancing maidens, who became his 14th wife.
The girls and young women sing and dance, often bare-breasted, as they bring reeds to reinforce the windbreak around the royal residence, a government website said.
‘We hope that the families of the deceased girls will hold the royal family accountable for the deaths of their children,’ the group said in a statement, as it alleged a similar incident had been covered up previously.’The least that the royal family can do at this moment is to cancel this year’s reed dance.’
But the King has already sent his condolences.
‘We all have heard about the dark cloud that has befallen the ‘imbali,” he said, using the Swati language word for flower, used to refer to the groups of women dancers.
He promised that the affected families would be compensated.