Picture: Boxer Ngwenya

Durban - Candidates vying for trainee traffic officer posts in the KZN Department of Transport will undergo the next phase of the interview process – the driver’s test – at their nearest central testing station.

This was announced by Transport MEC Willies Mchunu on Monday after the recruitment process was stopped following the deaths of eight candidates two weeks ago.

Eight people died after the fitness tests – six from heat-related problems, the seventh from suicide. An eighth person died in hospital a few days later.

Over two days 32 000 applicants took part in the fitness tests, with the successful applicants told to return for the driver’s test.

After widespread condemnation the process was stopped while the first batch was still taking the driver’s test.

Department spokesman Kwanele Ncalane said the MEC had been provided with a report on what had happened during the fitness test. He was expected to discuss it on Monday with Premier Zweli Mkhize. It has not yet been publicly released.

Mchunu met the management team responsible for recruitment and was presented with a new plan which would see candidates going for further tests at their nearest central testing stations.

This would reduce waiting hours and ensure efficiency.

Mchunu said: “We now have a new plan to assist us to manage the process moving forward. Candidates must be patient as we are preparing for this new approach.

“In two weeks, we will inform all candidates where the next tests will be conducted. Only those who passed the fitness test will be considered.”

The IFP’s spokeswoman for transport, Lindani Mncwango, said she doubted that the “new plan” would be a solution to the problem.

It was terrible that, so far into democracy, people were dying in their efforts to find work, she said, and called it an “administrative failure” of the ANC.

In yesterday’s statement Mchunu thanked those who had supported bereaved families. “All the deceased were buried this weekend and we thank the families for working with the department. This is a difficult time for all of us and we are all mourning this tragedy.”

A memorial service will take place in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 10am on Wednesday. - The Mercury