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Pietermaritzburg - A doctor could not determine the cause of death of four people who took part in a KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) fitness test, an inquiry heard on Tuesday.
“No specific cause of death was found, but circumstances surrounding the deaths should be looked at. I still don't say it was heat stroke because I don't have all the facts,” forensic medical officer Dr Dhanraj Maney said.
He was testifying in Pietermaritzburg before a commission of inquiry into the deaths of eight people after a RTI fitness test in the city in December.
The victims took part in a four-kilometre run at the Harry Gwala Stadium. The event formed part of a fitness test for RTI job applicants. More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for 90 advertised RTI trainee posts. Of these, 15 600 attended a fitness test on December 27, and a similar number on December 28.
Maney said he could not find the cause of death of the participants after examining specimens of their livers, hearts, lungs, brains, and intestines. He conducted post mortems on Lenny Nxumalo, Sanele Ngcobo, Ntuthuko Sibisi, and Sibonakaliso Mhlanga.
When conducting the post mortems he was given a history of heat stroke for all the participants. He said the fact that the participants were exercising in hot conditions should be considered as the cause of death.
During cross-examination, Ravenda Padayachee, for the provincial transport department, said post mortems on victims of large-scale disasters should only be performed by a specialist forensic pathologist.
Padayachee described the fitness test as a mass disaster because of the number of people who died and the media attention on the recruitment drive.
Maney would continue giving evidence on Wednesday.