Thirty-Eight virgins who were travelling to join thousands of other virgins in Swazi’s annual reed dance perished in a road accident en route to Mbabane, the Kingdom’s capital.
The driver of the vehicle has been taken into custody while unconfirmed reports indicate the number of those dead has risen to 65.
Swaziland King Mswati joined the dancers while his guest, Ghana’s Ashanti King, watched from the stands.
The eight day event will culminate in King Mswati III picking another wife -the 16th – though with the tragic accident, critics have urged him to turn the dance into prayer rallies and wait for next year. However, the virgins (‘imbali’ in local dialect) thronged the King’s palace.
It is estimated that over 40,000 teen girls and women attend the dance annually, including tourists and women from neighbouring Botswana and South Africa.