Johannesburg Metro cop with a motorist who commited a traffic offence in the center of Johannesburg city. 061008 Pic:Boxer Ngwenya

Pietermaritzburg - Seven people died this week after participating in strenuous fitness tests for jobs with the KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate.

The MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu, has indefinitely suspended the chaotic Pietermaritzburg recruitment drive since the deaths, including one by suicide.

Mchunu has also asked investigators to look into events at the Harry Gwala Stadium, where applicants underwent fitness tests in the searing heat on Thursday and Friday.

More than 15 500 people arrived to try out for the 90 trainee posts on offer. A total of 34 000 applied for the jobs.

The applicants reportedly had no access to water or medical attention.

Several young people had collapsed and six had died, Mchunu’s department said yesterday.

“Scores of these trainees could not cope with the hot weather conditions and they collapsed,” Mchunu said.

Although details remain sketchy, a seventh potential recruit reportedly committed suicide as a result of the stress.

About 230 of the applicants were admitted to Edendale and Northdale hospitals, where Mchunu visited them.

He said that by yesterday afternoon 12 were still in hospital and needed further medical care.

“I have decided that the process be stopped with immediate effect,” Mchunu said yesterday after a meeting with RTI management in Mkondeni, Pietermaritzburg.

“I’m aware there were about 5 000 trainees that were due to do the driving test tomorrow (Sunday), but we have decided that should also be halted.”

He said he had been shocked by the report of what had happened.

“As government we regret any injuries or loss of lives as a result of the fitness test we conducted over two days.”

The government would assist the affected families.

“Our hearts and prayers are with all those who were affected during the process,” he said.

Sunday Tribune