Durban - The DA and the KwaZulu-Natal Office of the Premier are at loggerheads over the release of the findings of a commission of inquiry into the deaths of eight aspirant traffic officers during a departmental recruitment drive in December 2012.
DA MPP Radley Keys attacked the Office of the Premier yesterday, criticising the extension of the deadline of the commission’s final report and accusing the premier and the ANC of showing little regard for the pain and suffering of the victims’ families.
“The end of March was the deadline to which KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu committed for a full report on the outcome of the R14.5 million Road Traffic Inspectorate Commission,” he said.
“It was expected to be presented to the premier who would then, in terms of the KZN Commissions Act, forward the report to the provincial legislature through the office of the Speaker. Yet the day came and went without so much as a murmur.”
Keys said that for KZN taxpayers, who had largely funded the probe, the delays raised serious questions about the vast sums of money spent without any visible resolution for action against Department of Transport officials, who could be found responsible for poor planning leading to the deaths.
The DA has called on the premier to announce the outcome of the inquiry at the next sitting of the legislature.
In response to the DA’s statement, Premier’s spokesman Ndabezinhle Sibiya accused the DA of political posturing and misleading the public.
Sibiya said the provincial government had long pleaded with political parties to allow the commission to do its work without interference or political pressure.
Sibiya said the commission had six months within which to do its work, but the provincial Treasury restricted the first session of the commission to 30 days. The second session was restricted to 51 days.
An extension was sought by the commission, which was granted in October last year. The last session was restricted to 22 days by the provincial cabinet.
No hearings were held in September or October as the commission was waiting on approval from the Treasury and provincial cabinet.
The commission sat for seven days in November and five days in December and again for eight days in January this year.
In February the commission sat only for two days.
In total, the commission was granted 103 days to do its work. During the 103 days, oral evidence was received from 54 witnesses.
The commission was finishing its work and four witnesses still had to be called to deal with crucial evidence.
“These include three medical professionals and one departmental employee.
“There is also a chief executive of a hospital who has to appear in relation to the medical records of a deceased person.
“Without evidence from these professionals, the work of the commission would be incomplete,” Sibiya said.
The final report was expected to be handed to the premier at the end of next month.