Officers nailed for RTI deaths

2014-08-14 00:00

THE families of the eight recruits who died during the RTI recruitment process will hire a lawyer to scrutinise the damning report detailing why their loved ones died.

Yesterday the families stood together, resolute in their determination to protect their interests.

Only when they fully understand the findings of the RTI Commission of Inquiry, will they determine their response and way forward.

Families of the eight recruits who died on December 27 and 28, 2012 while running fitness trials through Alexandra Park in blistering mid-summer heat, were addressed by Premier Senzo Mchunu, and given a full report by the RTI Commission investigating the deaths yesterday. The media were not given full access to the findings despite expectations that this would happen yesterday. After three hours of waiting, a media statement was finally read out by the Premier, and reporters were told they would not get the full report which was given to Mchunu almost a month ago.

Officials from the Premier’s office said the full report will only be made public after the families have viewed it and are satisfied with its contents.

Only a brief overview with recommendations and findings was revealed.

Many families said they had agreed to get legal opinion on the contents of the report because some of them were not educated and wanted clarity on what it meant. Sabathile Eunice Mhlanga, whose son Sbonakaliso died in the tragedy, said, “I can read the report but what about those who are not educated?”

She said they agreed to get a lawyer to help them to ensure the families understood what it contained.

The report into the deaths, at a recruitment process where more than 40 000 people competed for 90 vacant positions in the Road Traffic Inspectorate, was scathing about the Department of Transport officials who handled the process.

Mchunu, flanked by the MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu and heads of department from the two departments said what went wrong during those two days needed to be acknowledged and dealt with frankly. “It is disconcerting that the organisers of the fitness test made no projection about how many people were likely to attend the fitness event, nor did they afterwards know how many people actually attended during the two days,” said Mchunu.

The report said although the fitness test was introduced in 2009, there was no policy in place that would authorise that people should be subject to such fitness testing.

• At least four officials from the department, identified in the report, should face a disciplinary hearing.

• Compensation for the families of those who died.

It found that:

• Some incidents including a meeting by the short-listing committee were manufactured and fraudulent and should be

referred to the police for investigation.

• The department officials had failed in many aspects when they organized the training including:

• They failed to arrange for adequate medical measures, and only two ambulances had been requested in an informal manner.

• They did not ensure that the capacity

of the stadium which was 13 000, was not exceeded. Over the two days of the event, 40 700 people had been invited.

• They also failed to provide adequate

water for the participants in the searing

December heat.

SENZO MCHUNU said the tragedy has to be acknowledged no matter how uncomfortable and painful it may be for the government. He said he would “not hesitate to acknowledge the grave errors that led to this tragedy” and nor would “the provincial government hesitate to accept blame where blame is required and disciplinary action will accordingly be meted out.”

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