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Fitness test deaths traumatic: Mkhize

Pietermaritzburg - The deaths of eight aspirant traffic officers in KwaZulu-Natal has traumatised people beyond the borders of the province, premier Zweli Mkhize told mourners in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.

“The first thing that I must admit is that this whole episode has traumatised me, my family, my colleagues and a lot of people, not just in KwaZulu-Natal,” he said at a memorial service in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

Zweli Mkhize pictured. File photo: Siyabonga Mosunkutu. Credit: Independent Newspapers

Mkhize said everyone in the province had also been touched.

The eight people died during a training session conducted in sweltering heat at Harry Gwala Stadium, in Pietermaritzburg, on December 27.

More than 34 000 people applied for 90 advertised trainee posts, and 15 600 of them attended the fitness test. An unknown number collapsed because of the heat and had to be taken to hospital.

The department stopped the process amid an uproar about the deaths.

Mkhize said the deaths were a reflection of the scramble for jobs.

He applauded the reaction of political parties, which had conducted themselves well by not blaming the government for what had happened.

“This is reflection of the growth of our democracy in the province, when you consider that we come from a past of intolerance. In this matter there was no finger pointing.”

Earlier, transport MEC Willies Mchunu told mourners a report about the deaths had been compiled and presented to the premier.

“As the department, we subject ourselves before the premier, government and the legislature, and we will accept any sanction deemed appropriate,” he said.

Mchunu said he was still getting calls from applicants wanting to know when the screening process would resume, and he said this illustrated people's desperation for jobs.

He said screening trials would now be decentralised to ensure applicants' tests were not concentrated in any one part of the province. - Sapa

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