Four people were seriously injured while another 120 sustained minor injuries when a bus in which they were travelling overturned and smashed into trees in Malamulele in Limpopo.
The incident happened yesterday on the Malamulele-Thohoyandou road in Shihosani village at about 6am.
Malamulele police spokesman Inspector Magedzi Mapindani said the driver apparently lost control of the bus and it overturned.
The injured were rushed to Malamulele and Nkhensani hospitals. By noon yesterday, about 39 victims had been discharged while almost 85 were still receiving treatment.
Mapindani said the bus had carried 124 passengers instead of 65. He said preliminary police investigations revealed that overloading might have been the cause. He said those involved in the accident were mostly pupils and farmworkers. Mapindani said police investigations were continuing.
"We have opened a case of reckless and negligent driving against the driver. Further charges may be opened against him, pending the outcome of police investigations," he said.
Speaking to Sowetan a survivor of the accident, Simon Mavikani, said commuters had lodged several complaints about overloading. He claimed that bus and taxi operators overloaded their vehicles in order to make a "quick buck", compromising passenger safety in the process.
This, he said, happened mostly in Giyani and Malamulele.
He said when they complained about overloading, they were victimised and told not to use their "only means" of transport again.
"We have also complained to the local traffic department. They promised to look into the matter but nothing happens.
"We plead with the authorities to act now before more lives are lost or we will take the law into our hands," said Mavikani.
Spokesman for the department of roads and transport, Boiki Tsedu, said they would investigate the cause of the accident and the allegations made by commuters.