The Limpopo education department was reeling on Tuesday night after five pupils died in a crash earlier in the day.
All five were from the AM Mashego Secondary School, south of Polokwane.
Education MEC Polly Boshielo expressed her deepest sorrow and devastation after hearing about the accident.
“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,” the department said in a statement.
Sending her 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. 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 pupils, educators, support stuff and the bereaved families.