Delay disqualifies RTI candidate

2014-01-30 00:00

THE “historic” one-year delay in the process of sending recruits to the Department of Transport traffic training college has disqualified some people because of their age.

This was heard yesterday in the testimony of the head of the traffic training college, Reon du Plessis, during the RTI Commission of Inquiry looking into the death of eight participants in December 2012.

Du Plessis was being questioned by advocate Thulani Khuzwayo, a legal representative of the Health Department, on the matter.

He said in terms of the law they were not allowed to accept participants who were over the age of 35, [whether they were over 35 when they applied, or were now over 35, waiting for their turn to go to college].

Khuzwayo explained that a participant had applied when he was 35 years and one month old. “The participant ran the fitness test, did his driving test and also did his fingerprint test and was expecting to go to the traffic training college but he was then told he was disqualified [because of his age],” said Khuzwayo.

Du Plessis said although he had sympathy for the participant, he was duty bound by law not to accept him because doing so would mean that he was breaking the law.

“The Government Gazette stipulates that we don’t accept candidates that are over the age of 35,” he said.

Khuzwayo told Du Plessis that it was not the recruit’s fault that there were delays in the process because at the time he applied he had qualified to go to college. This could open another legal challenge for the department.

The participant had just turned 36 on January 3, 2014.

The commission also heard from Du Plessis that there was no regulation on the 3,8 km fitness test, but that it was introduced because Bheki Cele, former MEC for Transport, was adamant that he wanted officers to look smart and fit in their uniforms and that it was an instruction from former director of the RTI, John Schnell.

Another witness, a senior administration clerk at the Justice Department, Mboneni Khethimfundo Mabaso, who participated on December 28, 2012 told how a participant had been dragged onto a tarred parking lot and was thrown outside the gate by an official of the Transport Department.

“The guy had finished in time for the fitness test and we were waiting to register when this happened, and we all felt sorry for him as we thought that it was cruel,” he said.

Mabaso said the department had been disorganised.

He said after his driving test he was not told he had failed until yesterday, which was indicative of the poor organisation of the entire process.

In a moment that provided some light relief, Mabaso, suffering cramp in his right leg during cross-examination by senior counsel Ravi Padayachee of the Transport Department, was asked “Was that cramps or are you scared of me?” This resulted in laughter. Mabaso said the cramps were caused by playing soccer.

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