No fewer than 38 virgins have reportedly been killed in an auto crash on their way to the festival where Swaziland would test their virginity and choose a wife among them.
Times of Swaziland reports that dozens of girls and young women were killed over the weekend, as they travelled to the traditional festival where the King of Swaziland was to pick a new bride from thousands of topless, dancing virgins.
“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 earlier this weekend, at least 38 girls who were to partake in the annual event, lost their lives,” according to the report, “and about 20 survivors were being treated.”
It is, however, being alleged that the authorities in Swaziland are trying to cover up the accident from human rights group.
The Swaziland Solidarity Network (SSN) claimed the police attempted to discourage media report on the deaths.
Photographers were restricted from the scene according to Swazi journalist, for security reasons, but reports on the tragedy, described the scene as chaoic, as parents began to arrive at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital, in Manzini.
One of the survivors, Siphelele Sigudla, 18, told newsmen,
“We were about 50 on board the first truck that smashed into the Toyota van.”
The SSN has called on the royal family to reconsider going ahead with the festival, which sees about 40,000 participating in the eight-day ceremony.
“We hope that the families of the deceased girls will hold the royal family accountable for the deaths of their children,” the SSN 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.”
The King in his condolence statement, said:
“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.
Speaking at the opening of an international trade fair in Swaziland’s economic center Manzini, he promised that the affected families would be compensated, adding that investigation into the accident was ongoing.