38 girls and young women were killed in a crash while travelling to Swaziland's Annual Umhlanga Reed Dance Festival.
About 20 others were injured when the truck they were in collided with another vehicle on Friday. The young women and girls were travelling on the back of an open truck.
About 40,000 young women participate in the eight-day reed dance ceremony in which they sing and dance, usually bare-breasted, as they bring reeds to reinforce the windbreak around the royal residence. During the reed dance, the king often selects one of the young women to become one of his wives. Swaziland is polygamous and the king has more than a dozen wives.
Swaziland is Africa's last absolute monarchy, ruled by King Mswati since 1986.
The females were travelling on a highway between the Swazi cities of Mbabane and Manzini, when the truck carrying them smashed into a vehicle and was then hit in the rear by a second truck, the Times of Swaziland reported.
"We were about 50 on board the first truck that smashed into the Toyota van," said Siphelele Sigudla, 18, a survivor quoted by the Times of Swaziland.