Heat stroke behind deaths, inquiry hears

2013-07-29 15:58
Harry Gwala Stadium (Picture: The Witness)

Harry Gwala Stadium (Picture: The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Three people, who participated in a KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate fitness test, died of heat stroke, a commission of inquiry heard in Pietermaritzburg on Monday.

The death of two men was determined from a clinical presentation that was based on what Dr Carolyn Lee saw, when she was assessing the men and the history of the men given to her by medical staff at the casualty ward.

The third person was not assessed by Lee, who was the head of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Grey's Hospital, but she made her findings based on medical notes from the Edendale Hospital.

Lee was giving evidence before a commission appointed by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize to probe the deaths of eight people, who took part in a 4km run at the Harry Gwala Stadium, in Pietermaritzburg, in December.

It formed part of a fitness test for Road Traffic Inspectorate job applicants.

More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for 90 advertised trainee posts.

A total of 15 600 applicants attended a fitness test on 27 December and a similar number on 28 December.

Lee said the first man, known only as Mr Sibisi, had seizures, a low level of consciousness, low blood pressure, and a fast heart rate.

He was on a life support machine, which marked a severe illness, and had muscle failure and a low urine output, which indicated kidney failure.

The second person assessed was Lungile Wambi, who had a cardiac arrest.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was performed on him for about 40 minutes.

Medical history

Lee told the commission his level of consciousness was low, he had a low urine output, and had a lot of blood in his stomach.

"Based on a clinical and medical history, my conclusion is that Wambi developed kidney failure, which is consistent with heat stroke.

"He had poor neurological outcome. He would not benefit from an ICU bed," she said.

According to medical notes from Edendale Hospital, the third patient, Bongiwe Mbatha, had a body temperature of 38.8°C when she arrived at the hospital. Her temperature went up a degree when she was admitted to the ICU.

Lee said Mbatha had hypothermia and seizures, which showed that the cause of death could be heat stroke.

Read more on:    zweli mkhize  |  pietermaritzburg

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