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Pietermaritzburg - Delays in an inquiry into fatalities during a KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) fitness test was sharply criticised on Friday.
“We are unhappy with the way things are turning out. We are here because people are paying for us to be here,” commission of inquiry chairwoman Thandi Norman said.
“We have to utilise public money usefully.”
The commission is probing the deaths of eight people who took part in a four-kilometre run at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg in December.
This formed part of a fitness test for job applicants. More than 40 000 people qualified to apply for 90 advertised RTI trainee posts.
Of these, 20 000 applicants attended a fitness test on December 27 and a similar number on December 28.
Norman said two hours were wasted on Tuesday because of an early adjournment.
“This is undesirable,” she said.
It was unacceptable that lawyers were unprepared.
“I also do not condone parties not being told about witnesses that are going to be called. It creates this kind of problem.”
Evidence leader Sithembiso Kunene, health department lawyer Thulani Khuzwayo, and Nomusa Khuzwayo, for the families, told the inquiry they were not ready to cross examine Ntombenhle Ndlovu, who was a participant at the RTI fitness test.
Ndlovu was called by the transport department to give evidence, but the three lawyers told the inquiry they did not know who she was and what her evidence would be, as they did not have her statement.
Transport department lawyer Ravenda Padayachee said it was not a requirement to lead evidence with a statement.
He was then allowed to lead Ndlovu's evidence.
Ndlovu testified about how well organised the fitness test was on December 28. She said each group that ran was escorted by traffic police and an ambulance.
Ndlovu said that when she ran there was no danger of vehicles knocking down participants.
Traffic police officers were also stationed at different points on the route ensuring the road was clear of traffic.
Ndlovu said there were taps and toilets at the stadium.
The inquiry continues on September 16.