The affordable education loan option
Pietermaritzburg - A genetic disorder may have caused Bongiwe Mbatha a heat stroke after she took part in a KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate fitness test, an inquiry in Pietermaritzburg heard on Tuesday.
Cape Town University expert Timothy Noakes told the inquiry heat stroke was uncommon. There were six cases reported in medical literature on the history of marathon runners worldwide.
The inquiry is into the deaths of eight job applications who took part in a four-kilometre run, which was part of an RTI fitness test, at the Harry Gwala Stadium last December.
More than 40,000 people had qualified to apply for 90 advertised RTI trainee posts. Of these, 20,000 attended a fitness test on December 27, and a similar number on December 28.
Weather conditions on the first day were about 30 degrees Celsius with 60 percent humidity, and on the second day about 27.2
degrees Celsius with a humidity of about 50 percent.
Some people were suspected of having heat stroke after participating in the fitness test.
A diagnostic feature for heat stroke was a raised body temperature of 41 degrees Celsius, measured on a rectal thermometer, and a change in the nervous system function, Noakes said.
He said for someone to develop heat stroke, weather conditions did not have to be hot, and that it could also occur in cool conditions.
People with suspected heat stroke should be cooled in ice-cold water to decrease their body temperature.
The inquiry heard that no cooling measures were applied when treating some of the participants suspected of having heat stroke.
Mbatha was cooled with a wet cold sheet, but it was ineffective as her temperature rose from 38.8 degrees Celsius to 40.9 degrees Celsius in a short space of time.
Ravenda Padayachee, for the department of transport, asked Noakes about Sanele Ngcobo, who was thought to have heat stroke and to have committed suicide because of the resulting confusion.
Ngcobo was found with a 13cm cut on his neck after the fitness test.
Noakes said the suicide was a deliberate action.
When someone cut their throat, there was instant pain, and when the individual continued nevertheless, this was obviously deliberate.
Noakes said this was not sign of confusion.
Padayachee asked if a running event of five kilometres required a medical team, as in a marathon.
Noakes said the emergency services provided had been sufficient for the fitness test.
The participants were healthy and aged between 20 and 35.
Older people with chronic illnesses often took part in marathons, and heart attacks were expected, Noakes said.
The inquiry continues on Wednesday.