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Pietermaritzburg - Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) could not properly prepare for a deadly KwaZulu-Natal job recruitment fitness test last year, an inquiry heard on Thursday.
It never received a formal letter asking for its help, EMRS provincial operations manager Muzikayise Mabaso said in Pietermaritzburg.
“I waited for the letter, I did not receive the letter,” he said.
“For us to allocate resources we need to determine the nature, activities and risk assessment, so that we can deploy appropriate resources for that event.”
Mabaso was testifying before a commission of inquiry into eight deaths during a provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) fitness test in December. The victims took part in a four-kilometre run at the city's Harry Gwala Stadium. The test 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.
Mabaso was asked on Thursday about communication he had with a transport department official known as Mr Sithole. Mabaso said he told Sithole over the telephone on December 20 to write a formal letter asking for help for the fitness test for planning purposes.
Sithole called Mabaso on December 24, saying he did not have time to write the letter, but asked for two ambulances to be at the stadium. Two ambulances were sent on the morning of December 27 but did not enter the stadium because people had already collapsed outside the venue.
More resources were then sent, Mabaso said.
Mabaso said the transport department did not tell him how many people would participate in the fitness test and the activities that would take place.
Ravenda Padayachee, for the transport department, said it was unacceptable for someone in Mabaso's position not to ask Sithole the number of participants and if there would be enough water at the stadium.
“I do not take responsibility for their (RTI's) planning,” Mabaso said.
“My understanding is that RTI is the custodian of the law. In most of the planning meetings RTI is represented. My understanding is they fully understand how to plan for an event,” Mabaso said.
The inquiry continues on Monday.