Scores of people competing for a handful of provincial traffic officer posts in Pietermaritzburg were treated for dehydration when they collapsed after the fitness test. PICTURE: Sharika Regchand

Pietermaritzburg -

There was mayhem in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday when 15 000 job applicants were put through their paces for 90 provincial traffic officer jobs. And, another 17 000 applicants are expected in the city again on Friday.

Desperate for work, many of the applicants over-exerted themselves when they were asked to run 4km in 30 minutes and had to be treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration. Those who failed to make the cut-off do not go through to the next elimination round for the jobs.

So many collapsed that there was insufficient space in the medical tent and many people were treated in the sun, on the grass in the Harry Gwala stadium where the job application process was under way.

At 10.30am an ambulance bus arrived followed by more ambulances. People were ferried to hospital and, at 4pm, the fitness tests were temporarily stopped as there were no spare hospital beds for the steady stream of patients suffering from dehydration.

For many of the hopeful candidates, it was a day of endless waiting in queues. Not only did they have to wait to take their fitness test, but afterwards they waited for hours again to collect their identity documents or driving licences which they had handed over on arrival.

Despite this, many were still pleased that they were able to participate.

Slindile Gabele, 31, who was still waiting her turn to run, said she left Newcastle at 2am.

“I am very nervous, but I believe I will make it,” she said.

As she was unemployed she was desperate for a post, she said.

Nomathemba Cele, 27, of Umlazi, who failed to complete the fitness test in the allocated time, was livid.

She complained there was no water on the route and that those who had collapsed from dehydration had to make their own way back to the stadium.

Pointing to patients being treated on the ground, she said it was disgraceful that there was no shelter.

Cele said that applicants were given very short notice of the fitness test. They were only informed this week.

“Bearing in mind it’s Christmas, when everybody eats a lot, we had no time to prepare for the fitness test. I thought I would just have to do some exercises today,” she said.

KZN Department of Transport spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said the successful applicants were told to return to take part in the next phase of the process which was a driving test.

Those who made it would then undergo further competency tests followed by an interview. “It is a lengthy process. Only the best candidates will make it,” he said, adding that the process would hopefully be wrapped up by the end of January.

According to Ncalane the advert said they could be called at any time for an interview, and, while he conceded that the job seekers had to wait in the heat for their turn to complete the fitness test, he said that traffic officers were required to work in all weather conditions.

[email protected]

The Mercury