The website of the Department of Basic Education has been hacked.

In a statement, the department confirmed the website had been shut down and technicians and investigators were working on getting to the bottom of the problem.

After confirming the hack in a statement, the department said the people who had breached the website had "since posted gory pictures of decapitated corpses, some of whom are children".

The message posted on the website by the hacker(s) read: 

"Hacked by Team System DZ

"A message to the government, the American people and the rest of the world. Is this the humanity that you claim, or is life irrelevant to Muslims? Do not imagine that these actions against Muslims will pass you and we will forget what you did to the Arab and Muslim peoples all over the world. I love Islamic State."

The department statement continued: "We distance ourselves from the brutal images that incite hatred and violence. We have taken immediate steps to have the images removed from our website and investigate how the website has been hacked. In this regard we have contacted the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA) that is responsible for security systems to deal with the hacking as a matter of urgency.

"We are currently working together with SITA to deal with the hack and reclaim the website. We also condemn such acts in the strongest terms. In the meantime we appeal to members of the public to be patient with us as we have since taken down the website while working to restore it. An investigation is under way to establish the source of the hack."

The attack follows a warning by South Africa's leading cyber security firm, LAWtrust, which said South African businesses must act to protect themselves and their customers – as the world battles a second wave of cyber attacks.