Report praises the heroes of RTI fitness test disaster

2014-12-18 00:00

LOCAL heroes involved in the fatal traffic officer recruitment camp two years ago have been praised for their dedication in the face of disaster.

This was revealed in a confidential ­report — seen by The Witness — which give insight into each of the witnesses who gave evidence at the Road Traffic ­Inspectorate commission of inquiry.

The commission was formed months after the December 27-28, 2012, tragedy at the Harry Gwala Stadium when eight ­people died at a traffic officer selection camp. It was attended by over 35 000 ­people in the hope of claiming one of the 90 vacant trainee posts.

Among the commission’s recommendations — handed to Premier Senzo Mchunu earlier this year — was that disciplinary and criminal action be taken against implicated officials.

But Msunduzi’s own disaster ­management official, Michael Amod, was “commended” and defended by the commission for his actions during the two-day disaster.

He faced criticism from the KZN ­Department of Transport (DoT) — the ­organisers of the event — who attempted to deflect responsibility by accusing Amod of “neglecting his responsibility as ­another organ of state”.

“He should be commended for his role in trying to avoid the disaster by preparing an evacuation plan. This was clearly a matter of damage control,” said the report.

The document said that criticism received from the DoT was “unwarranted”.

“The municipality, particularly disaster management, was not aware of the event. Had the municipality been aware they would have advised accordingly,” said the commission.

And it was traffic officer Carol Tarr’s ­evidence that helped guide the commission to decide that no permission had been sought by the Transport Department from the municipality.

Tarr, who plans and co-ordinates events that take place in the municipality, said she “did not receive an application” from DoT to run the event and that the DoT was ­“under-prepared”.

“They [DoT] knew the number of ­participants [expected]. They should have known that a lot of people were going to turn up and should have been prepared for that,” said the report.

Department of Health manager within the Emergency Medical Rescue Service (EMRS) Thembelihle Ndlovu was lauded for her efforts in supplying medical ­support. She had told the commission that RTI officials refused to listen when told to terminate the event.

“She went out of her way to assist on the two days and to ensure that there was adequate medical cover at the stadium. She even approached the fire ­department [for assistance],” said the commission.

Earlier Weekend Witness showed how key KZN Department of Health and Transport officials lied and misled the commission.


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