13 killed in crash on way to Swaziland beauty pageant: po­lice

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Thir­teen peo­ple were killed in a road ac­ci­dent in Swaziland in­volv­ing girls head­ing to a tra­di­tional royal cer­e­mony po­lice said Sun­day, giv­ing a much lower toll than pre­vi­ously re­ported.

“Thir­teen peo­ple have died and the toll hasn’t risen” since the ac­ci­dent, po­lice spokesman Khulekani Mamba told AFP.

Lo­cal media gave

the same death toll, yet pro-democ­racy ac­tivists from the Johannesburg-based Swaziland Sol­i­dar­ity Net­work on Sun­day said 65 were killed.

Eleven of the vic­tims were girls from the vil­lage of Phon­jwane in eastern Swaziland, ac­cord­ing to the daily Times of Swaziland.

The crash hap­pened Fri­day night when their open truck smashed into a car on the road be­tween the tiny king­dom’s two main cities, Mba­bane and Manzini, en route to the tra­di­tional Reed Dance, ac­tivists said.

The Reed Dance, due to be held Mon­day, is a beauty pageant at which King Mswati III can choose a new wife.

Tens of thou­sands of young vir­gins dance be­fore the po­lyg­a­mist king, who can se­lect one of them as a new wife.

Swaziland

Sol­i­dar­ity Net­work (SSN) ac­tivists claimed the ruler had fab­ri­cated the lower death fig­ure.

“It’s lies. This puts the king in an em­bar­rass­ing sit­u­a­tion and he is try­ing to un­der­mine the toll,” SSN spokesman Lucky Lukhele told AFP.

Mswati, Africa’s last ab­so­lute monarch, chose his 14th wife at the cel­e­bra­tion in 2013. He has ruled Swaziland since his fa­ther’s death in 1982.

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