2014-02-14 00:00

THE minutes of a crucial meeting dealing with the fatal December 2012 traffic officers’ recruitment drive were allegedly falsified and then presented to the commission of inquiry currently probing the incident.

It has been alleged that a Transport Department employee was instructed by the department’s human resources manager, Miranda Sindi Zwane, to create the minutes after the fitness tests, and to backdate them to prior to the tragedy.

The instruction to falsify the minutes allegedly came in January 2013, a month after the recruitment process that claimed eight lives.

It is unclear at this stage if the meeting referred to was never held and the minutes completely fabricated, or if it was held and then doctored.

However, it is purported that the meeting dealt with the shortlisting of applicants for the posts of traffic officers, and the notice period to inform applicants to arrive for fitness tests.

Shortly after the tragedy, a commission was set up by former KZN premier Zweli Mkhize, to probe the deaths of eight people who took part in a four-kilometre run as part of the fitness test — held in blazing heat at Pietermaritzburg’s Harry Gwala Stadium in December 2012.

More than 40 000 people had been shortlisted to apply for 90 advertised Road Traffic Inspectorate trainee posts.

Of these, 20 000 applicants attended the fitness test on December 27, and a similar number the next day.

In a shock move yesterday, a computer belonging to a Transport Department employee was seized in a joint operation by the police and National Intelligence Agency.

The employee broke down when confronted by police and is expected to make a statement shortly.

The dramatic events unfolded yesterday morning after a search warrant was granted by a magistrate. This followed a statement made to police by a former department employee.

According to that statement, a risk assessment of the test venue and its suitability to host the recruitment drive was to have been carried out, but was never done.

“I am of the strong view that the deaths would not have occurred had proper risk assessments been done. I am prepared to testify in this regard,” said the former employee, whose name is known to The Witness but is being withheld.

He said he was also aware that the minutes of the meeting dealing with the shortlisting of applicants submitted to the commission of inquiry were false and were created after December 2012.

“The document was created in January 2013 on instructions from Zwane, her supervisor. This document has been handed in as evidence to the commission, purporting to have been created prior to the deaths of the recruits, whereas it was fabricated afterwards.

“My view is that this was done to mislead the commission to arrive at a contrived conclusion. This is a serious matter and has been designed to defeat the ends of justice,” reads the statement.

“The commission of inquiry has been misled and it is my civic duty to bring it to the attention of the state for further action as deemed fit,” the former employee’s statement continues.

Approached for comment yesterday, Zwane said she was not aware of the details in the statement.

“I would love to give you a comment, but I have been told I cannot because the commission is still continuing,” she said.

Transport Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said he was aware of the confiscation of the computer, but not the reason why it was taken away.

“We are awaiting information as to why the computer was seized. We are co-operating with the police,” he said.

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