Victims’ kin still unhappy

2013-06-06 00:00

HAVING run four kilometres in 20 minutes, coming home in sixth place, Lenny Nxumalo would have expected to progress to the next stage in the process of being selected for one of 90 trainee traffic officers’ posts.

However, he collapsed on completing the run and was found dead four hours later.

Nxumalo was among the thousands vying for the positions offered by the Road Traffic Inspectorate, for which fitness tests started at Harry Gwala Stadium on December 28 last year. He and seven others died after running in the sweltering heat.

Yesterday, his father refused to co-operate with a commission investigating the incident.

An emotional Thembinkosi Nxumalo, of Happy Valley in Woodlands, said Lenny, his family’s breadwinner, had been employed as a machine operator and had applied for the RTI post hoping for a better job.

The father said he now had to mix mud for neighbours building houses to support his family, including Lenny’s two children.

Nxumalo said Lenny’s friends, thinking he had already left the stadium, had left him behind when they could not reach him on his cellphone. They returned to the stadium that night when they realised he had not been home, and found him dead inside an ambulance at the stadium.

Nxumalo said he thought the friends were joking when they first told him of Lenny’s death.

He was angry at the Transport Department’s failure to pay for Lenny’s funeral expenses. He said the department paid for the grave and coffin, but food and other expenses were met by neighbours.

Nxumalo would not answer questions from advocate Ravi Padayachee SC, for the Transport Department.

Padayachee said that according to Lenny’s friend Brian Ngcobo, the pair drank 24 pints of cider and two bottles of whisky on Christmas Day.

The following day they had 12 pints of cider and another two bottles of whisky, drinking until 3 am on December 27.

Nxumalo denied this, saying Ngcobo had lied.

Earlier, the commission heard from Thandiwe Sibisi, of Hammarsdale, whose grandson Ntuthuko died after the fitness test.

Sibisi, who raised Ntuthuko after his mother died in 1997, said they received a call from Grey’s Hospital at 11.30 pm, asking them to rush to the hospital.

Since they didn’t have transportation, the family only got to Grey’s the next day, only to hear that Ntuthuko had died at 3.30 am.

Sibisi said they were told that he had died of kidney and bladder problems, which surprised her because he had no history of illnesses. “He had a swollen forehead and mouth, but when we looked at his lower body, there was nothing wrong with him.”

Padayachee said tests showed that there was nothing wrong with Ntuthuko’s kidneys. He suggested that he might have died from falling.

The commission resumes on June 25.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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