Fitness test deaths: ‘still too painful for forgiveness’

2013-01-09 19:19

A memorial service held in honour of eight people who died during a Road Traffic Inspectorate fitness test in KwaZulu-Natal at the end of December has done little to comfort their grieving families, with some saying forgiveness is not on the cards.

KZN MEC of Community Safety and Liaison Willies Mchunu held the memorial service at Pietermaritzburg’s city hall today to offer condolences to the families of the seven people who died in the city during a 4km run which was part of a fitness test. An eighth applicant reportedly committed suicide.

The deceased were among more than 34 000 candidates who responded to a recruitment drive.

A total of 15 600 applicants were called in to participate in the programme on December 27.

However, only 90 trainee posts were available.

Thembinkosi Nxumalo (28), who lost his son, Lenny Nxumalo, walked out of today’s event because of the late start. The 11am event started close to noon. “I don’t even know why I bothered to come. By wasting my time, they are still showing gross disrespect to me and my family,” Nxumalo told City Press.

“There is no forgiveness,” he said plainly.

Lucia Sibisi, the aunt of Ntuthuko Sibisi (28), said her family did not attend: “Maybe we can forgive later, but right now it is still too painful.”

She said the family was most disappointed by the manner in which the department of transport had handled the matter. “No one has ever said anything to us as a family. We found out about his death through the hospital.

“Someone at the hospital found one of our numbers in his CV. But they could not tell us anything more since he apparently came already unable to talk,” she added.

Ntuthuko had been seeking work for years. He had been to numerous interviews and would have taken anything, Sibisi said.

Mchunu said such a big number of applicants were called because the department wanted the process to be fair so that no one could later make bribery allegations.

“As the department, we subject ourselves before the premier, government and the legislature, and we will accept any sanction deemed appropriate,” he said, according to Sapa.

Opposition parties and organised labour have called for a commission of inquiry to be established.

Premier Zweli Mkhize said many religious leaders have written to him, asking to be part of the commission.

He assured the families that no one close to the incident would be involved in the investigations.

He said the law would take its course should anyone be found to have been at fault.

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