At least 16 schoolchildren were killed yesterday when a minibus collided with a truck along a South African highway around 300km north of Durban, a regional government said.

The provincial KwaZulu-Natal transport ministry reported 16 deaths from the collision.

According to local media the children, aged between five and 12, along with three adults died.

"The death of so many young lives is a serious tragedy," regional transport minister Sipho Hlomuka said in a statement.

The accident occurred in the Pongola area, near the border with Eswatini, in the east of South Africa.

In a video posted on social media, Mr Hlomuka said that the incident happened as the province is preparing for its Transport Month campaign in October, which will be characterised by visible law-enforcement operations throughout the province.

He called on road users to be responsible and to adhere to the traffic laws ahead of a visit to the area later today.

South Africa's roads are among the most developed on the continent, but safety remains an issue with accidents often blamed on reckless driving.