Ninety available posts for new traffic police in KZN; 34 000 applications from people who are desperate for employment; 15 500 turn up on the first day at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg to do the fitness test. It is 30° and very humid and, guess what? The first test is to run 4km.
Now I ask you, ‘how many ordinary people can run 1km, whether in heat or cold, let alone 4kms in extreme heat and humidity?” Walking that distance for most of us is arduous enough so running 4kms is surely only for those who are confirmed to be physically fit. How many of the current Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) members can run 4kms? We have read a couple of times this year that our police men and women (both RTI & SAPS) are overweight and unfit. Surely if the powers that be want new members to be fit and healthy they should be setting an example. We should be able to rely on our police being able to run and apprehend criminals rather than pull a gun as soon as possible. Maybe movies and TV shows do exaggerate, but the cops in those shows are witnessed running after criminals.
Recently, the wonderful system of CCTV cameras in the Johannesburg business district was demonstrated on the news, showing criminals were being caught red-handed. There was one guy breaking into an SUV, having blocked the remote locking system, was caught and cuffed. A second situation was of 2 men stealing copper cabling when 2 policemen arrive (not RTI I will admit). They approach the men and one runs away and no one chases him! Not fit enough?
Besides the fact that these men and women applicants were unemployed and so not well nourished, they had not received prior warning of this acitivity so could not have trained for it. This alone should have alerted the organisers to the possible problems the applicants might have had. A second warning sign was when some, while waiting for instructions, were collapsing in the heat but, oh no, the run went ahead anyway. According to media reports and TV interviews there was no water supplied and no medical or ablution facilities available. These are basic requirements whenever there is a large crowd and even more so if they are expected to be physically active. It is my understanding that the police in any service are supposed to have basic first aid knowledge in which teaching about these necessities should be a basic requirement. Maybe it is no longer part of police training.
What a disastrous result – 6 dead and 200 admitted to hospital, some critical. Once again families have lost prospective breadwinners, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Already impoverished and in dire straits they now have to hold funerals and do all the tasks required when a person dies. The RTI or whoever was responsible for this debacle should hang their heads in shame at showing such lack of basic survival knowledge and concern for humanity. Pity it had to come to this for the MEC to get involved and make enquiries.