Hawks Captain Calvin Adimoolum with the computer taken from the KZN Department of Transport offices in Pietermaritzburg. Picture: Shan Pillay

Pietermaritzburg - In a joint operation, the National Intelligence Agency and Hawks seized a computer hard drive from the Pietermaritzburg offices of the KZN Department of Transport on Thursday.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the information contained on the hard drive relates to the minutes of a meeting in which candidates were shortlisted for trainee posts at the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) in December 2012.

The allegedly “concocted” minutes were submitted as evidence before a commission of inquiry tasked with probing the deaths of eight applicants for traffic officer jobs.

More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for 90 RTI trainee posts. Of these, 15 600 applicants had attended a fitness test at the Harry Gwala Stadium on December 27 that year and a similar number on December 28.

Scores of people were admitted to hospital after taking part in the 4km run to test their fitness.

Seven apparently died from dehydration and heatstroke, while the eighth was reported to have committed suicide after failing to pass.

The commission is investigating the handling of the RTI’s selection process, and will report on whether statutory requirements were adhered to and if negligence by any officials contributed to deaths or injuries.

The inquiry, which is ongoing, may recommend disciplinary action or criminal prosecution.

According to the source, a department official had allegedly instructed employees to falsify the minutes of the meeting.

The allegedly fabricated information was then presented before the commission.

One of the employees in question has made a statement to police alleging that the minutes of the meeting, dealing with the shortlisting of applicants, that was submitted to the commission were false and had been created in January last year, a full month after the fitness tests were held.

“My view is that this was done to mislead the commission. This is a serious matter and has been designed to defeat the ends of justice,” the employee says in the statement.

The employee further alleged that a risk assessment of the test venue (Harry Gwala Stadium) and its suitability to host the recruitment fitness test was supposed to have been conducted, but was never done.

The employee said that had the tests been done, the deaths would probably not have occurred.

Transport spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said that the department was co-operating with police in the matter.

Daily News