About 200 treated at RTI fitness test

2013-08-08 22:08
Harry Gwala Stadium (Picture: The Witness)

Harry Gwala Stadium (Picture: The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Paramedics treated about 200 people on the first day of the KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate's (RTI) fitness test for job applicants, a commission of inquiry in Pietermaritzburg heard on Thursday.

Thulani Khuzwayo, for the provincial health department, said this excluded participants taken to hospitals.

Participants who took part in the fitness test started collapsing around 10:00 on 27 December, it emerged during his questioning of Professor Michael Savage, an agrometeorologist from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

The commission is probing the deaths of eight people who took part in a 4km run at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg. This formed part of a fitness test for RTI job applicants.

More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for 90 advertised RTI trainee posts. Of these, 15 600 attended a fitness test on 27 December and a similar number on 28 December.

On Thursday, Savage said weather conditions on 27 December were adverse. People were advised to be cautious between 09:42 and 18:30. Extreme weather conditions were indicated from 13:10 to 17:00.

He said that when people started collapsing at the stadium the organisers should have taken precautions.

"On that day, whether one was a participant or non-participant, the weather became more and more uncomfortable. It became unbearable. At some point someone should have realised a disaster was going to happen."

He said the previous day had been hot. Given that information the organisers should have expected a hot 27 December.

Ravenda Padayachee, for the KwaZulu-Natal transport department, told Savage the advertisement for the job had stated that applicants would be subjected to strenuous exercise.

Savage said the advertisement did not mention when this strenuous exercise would take place.

Padayachee said the 90 posts for trainee RTI officers had to be filled in about two months.

He said the advert for the positions ran from 20 November until 4 December, and successful applicants had to be ready for admission to the training college on 14 January.

Padayachee said the department had frozen posts in November 2009 and it was decided in November 2012 to fill critical positions.

"Trainee officers were categorised as critical posts," he said.

The commission continues on Monday, when a representative of the paramedics is expected to testify.

Read more on:    rti  |  pietermaritzburg

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