Traffic cop hopeful drowns

2013-01-03 00:00

A YOUNG Nongoma man who travelled to Pietermaritzburg last week hoping to be selected as a trainee traffic officer survived the gruelling fitness test that claimed eight lives, only to drown at the Alexandra swimming pool on Sunday evening.

Wonderboy Nkosi (24) was among the 35 000 people applying for the 90 officers’ posts on offer. He stayed with friends in the Edendale area and participated in the fitness tests held on Thursday and Friday at Pietermaritzburg’s Harry Gwala stadium in sweltering conditions.

Having passed the fitness test, Nkosi was waiting to take the driver’s test, which was later suspended by Transport MEC Willies Mchunu, when he accompanied friends to the pool to cool off.

The municipality would not divulge details about how he drowned, but the police said they received a report on the drowning at about 6.30 pm on Sunday.

When they arrived at the scene, they found Nkosi lying next to the pool. “Paramedics tried to resuscitate him, but he had already passed away,” said police spokesperson Captain Thulane Zwane.

An uncle of Nkosi contacted by The Witness was too distraught to speak about the tragedy.

The police have opened an inquest docket and Zwane said a postmortem would be held to determine how Nkosi died.

The tragedy prompted questions about the Msunduzi Municipality’s management of its swimming pools. Like the traffic test debacle, campaigners for better and safer public bathing facilities want a probe into whether negligence resulted in Nkosi’s drowing.

Public swimming pool regulations require a lifeguard for every 250 bathers in a pool. On the day of the drowning, there were more than 1 000 swimmers at the Alexandra pool, with two lifeguards on duty.

Campaigner Unwar Rawat alleges that not all lifeguards employed by the municipality have valid lifesaving certificates.

According to Rawat, the proficiency re-test — a programme that lifeguards undertake every three years — was cancelled midway through the process last year.

He also questioned why the swimming pool manager was given leave during the busiest period of the swimming season.

Rawat added that the Alexandra pool was closed on Christmas Eve and again on December 28 as the water had turned green.

He said Nkosi’s death made him more determined to continue his battle to get the Msunduzi Municipality to run its pools competently.

Municipal spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said both lifeguards at the Alexandra pool had valid lifesaving certificates and that a senior lifeguard had been on duty. She said the water was clear on the day of the drowning, but the floor needed vacuuming due to the huge bather load. She confirmed the pool had been closed on Friday, December 28, for cleaning because of the bather load the previous day.

Madonda did not respond to the questions on why the senior manager was on leave and why extra lifeguards were not employed to cope with the number of swimmers.

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