Durban - Compensation must be paid to the dependents of eight people who died during fitness tests carried out over two days in December 2012, and four officials of the Transport Department must be disciplined for their conduct.
These were among the recommendations made by a commission of inquiry set up in March last year to probe the deaths. The commission’s 75-page report was discussed in the KZN executive council on Wednesday.
Afterwards, Premier Senzo Mchunu spoke to family members of the victims before addressing the media. Copies of the report were made available only to the families.
The eight people were among 40 700 job seekers applying for 90 jobs as traffic officers. The first phase of the selection process was a 5km run.
A salient finding of the commission was that there was no compliance with the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act, which provided for the establishment of a “venue operation centre”. Accordingly, the person in charge was supposed to be a member of the police force and the organiser had to put in place measures to ensure the safety and security of persons and their property.
Mchunu said the department had failed to book a stadium, arrange adequate medical measures, ensure that the ablution facilities were sufficient and that the stadium capacity of 13 000 was adhered to, and failed to ensure that there was adequate water for the participants.
He said the commission had also considered whether the test was consistent with the legislative and constitutional imperatives and found that in 2009, it was decided to introduce a 2.4km run as a measure of testing the fitness of recruits. However, there was no policy on this. The recommendations included that:
* Should the department wish to subject applicants to a strenuous physical test, it must develop a policy accordingly.
* The transport MEC and head of department must consider taking disciplinary steps against four officials (not yet named) for their conduct.
* The documents submitted to the commission as the minutes of the shortlisting committee should be referred to police for investigation.
* The MEC must also consider three affidavits placed before the commission which made serious allegations against a certain doctor.
* Those who did not suffer lasting effects and were listed in the main report be compensated R10 000.
Family members reacted with mixed emotions to the report on Wednesday. Some were happy with the findings and recommendations, while others said the matter was still not over. They had to decide on how much they wanted to be compensated after losing their loved ones: Sibonakaliso Mhlanga, 30, Lindokuhle Kunene, 30, Xolani Gumede, 29, Ntuthuko Sibisi, 28, Lenny Nxumalo, 28, Sanele Ngcobo, 22, Bongiwe Mbatha, 29, and Lungile Wamba, 30.
MEC for Transport Willies Mchunu said state law advisers would be briefed to consider the recommendations.