KZN witness accused of interference

2013-05-14 19:47
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Pietermaritzburg - A witness at an inquiry into eight deaths at a fitness test in KwaZulu-Natal was on Tuesday accused of manipulating another witness.

Ravi Padayachee, SC, for the KwaZulu-Natal transport department, asked whether Nonhlanhla Mlambo was "manipulating things, knowing that you are going to be a witness?".

Mlambo was being cross-examined at a commission sitting in Pietermaritzburg.

It was appointed by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize earlier this year to probe the deaths of eight people who took part in a 4km run at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg in December. This formed part of a fitness test for Road Traffic Inspectorate job applicants.

More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for the 90 advertised trainee posts. A total of 15 600 applicants attended a fitness test on 27 December and a similar number on 28 December.

An unknown number of them collapsed due to the heat, and many were taken to hospital.

Padayachee questioned Mlambo about the difference between her evidence and that supplied in a statement by her friend Nkosinathi Kubheka, who accompanied her on 27 December.

Mlambo told the inquiry that if Kubheka were to be called "now he will give you a different answer" about whether they had seen people collapse during the run.

It was then that Padayachee accused her of interfering with the commission's witnesses.

Padayachee said according to Kubheka's written statement he did not see anyone collapse when he was with Mlambo.

Mlambo previously told the commission she saw a woman collapse. However, in an affidavit handed to the commission in April she said: "I did not see any of the participants collapse."

Padayachee asked her if he could get her cellphone records to determine whether she spoke to Kubheka in the previous 24 hours.

Initially reluctant to agree, Mlambo asked: "Is there anywhere that I have to put my signature?"

Padayachee said a signature was not needed, that an agreement before the commission was sufficient, as she was under oath.

The commission, headed by Thandani Norman SC, continues.

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