By late afternoon, funeral arrangements for the four police officers were not yet finalised, but Limpopo police spokesperson Col Ronel Otto said a memorial service would be held in their honour.
The deceased are Constable Masethe Reuben Moloto, 38; Constable Monwabisi Lawrence Setlako, 37; Constable Mateane John Mahlokoane, 35; and Warrant Officer Lesoka Joseph Mafane, 48. A truck driver also lost his life in the explosion, which happened after two trucks collided near Mokopane. Meanwhile, the courts will have to determine who was responsible for the horrific explosion.
Otto said the police were opening a culpable homicide inquest into the deaths of the four police officers and truck driver. “We are interviewing as many witnesses as possible. We are waiting for the forensic results, which will be sent to a court that will determine who is to blame and what charges will follow.”
After the two trucks collided in the early hours of Thursday morning, police rushed to the scene. The trucks, one carrying groceries and the other blasting cartridges, caught fire. The blasting cartridges exploded, flinging debris up to 400m from the wreck and leaving an 8-metre wide hole in the road.
Kagiso Motane from Roads and Safety said civil engineers had been working since Thursday night after forensics finished processing the scene. “We don’t know how long it will take to repair the road, but as we speak they are busy doing it,” she said.
Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters vowed to take serious steps against those responsible for the explosion. She said they would face the full might of the law.
The South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) said due to the severity of the crash on the N1, north of Mokopane, both the north and south bound carriageways in this vicinity are closed to traffic. Vusi Mona, spokesperson for Sanral, said motorists should use the R101 National road as an alternative route. “This road runs parallel to the N1 and it is in a good condition,” he said.