Dying for a job: Lenny Nxumalo (28)

2013-02-03 09:59

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The tragic deaths of eight people in a fitness test for aspirant traffic officers have been forgotten all too soon. Sphumelele Mngoma revisits their stories.

After losing his son Lenny, Joseph Nxumalo would like a minute alone with the person responsible for organising the Road Traffic Inspectorate fitness test.

“I would like for it to be just the two of us, without anybody else present because I would like to know what the hell he was thinking,” he said.

Nxumalo was the breadwinner for his family of seven.

“He had started extending our home. But all that will stop. We have nothing to eat. I don’t know where to go,” Joseph said.

Nxumalo lost his mother while he was still a young boy.

“I taught him to wash his own clothes and cook for himself. And now that I’m an old man, he was taking care of me,” his father said.

Nxumalo had two children, a son (10) and a 20-month-old daughter.

His father added: “He lived for his children. He worked as a machine operator. But he was desperate for a better job. He wanted a better life for us.”

The 28-year-old collapsed after running the 4km race in well under the cut-off time.

“If the person who organised this can run 4km without water, in the timeframe these children were expected to run – in that heat – they don’t have to compensate me for my son’s death. I want to see them do it,” said Joseph, who received R1?000 from a Durban member of Parliament, Vusi Dube, which he used to pay for his grandson’s school fees and buy a bicycle as a means to console the boy.

“Instead of offering us cake and tea and calling senseless memorial services where we have to suffer through long political speeches, I want them to tell me what I am supposed to do with Lenny’s children? How are they supposed to live?”

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