Accusations of ‘dilly-dallying’ in setting up traffic-trainee deaths commission

2013-02-24 10:00

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize has come under fire from opposition parties for the slow pace in appointing a commission of inquiry into the deaths of seven candidate traffic officers shortly before Christmas.

Mkhize told the media this week he had requested Justice Minister Jeff Radebe to appoint a commission, headed by a retired judge, into the tragedy.

Trainees desperate to be placed in the provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate had been put through gruelling exercises without food or water in the blazing sun after sitting for hours in the heat.

Mkhize’s spokesperson, Ndabe Sibiya, said the premier was forced by law to request Radebe to appoint the commission.

“We have completed all the paperwork for the commission and handed it over to the minister of justice for a decision on who is to be appointed. Once that is done the commission can begin its work,’’ Sibiya said.

Sibiya refused to disclose the composition of the commission or who had been recommended to chair it.

“There will be an announcement once the national minister has applied his mind to the matter and signed off on it,’’ he said.

However, DA spokesperson on transport in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, Radley Keys, said Mkhize was “dilly-dallying’’ and did, in fact, have the powers to appoint a commission.

”Despite his claims to the contrary, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize has the authority to appoint a commission into the deaths of seven RTI candidate officers in December and does not need permission from national authorities,’’ Keys said.

“While the premier must notify national government of his intentions, he certainly does not need anyone’s consent,’’ Keys said.

Keys said Mkhize’s predecessor, S’bu Ndebele, had appointed three commissions during his tenure, including one commission into alleged police inefficiency and ineffectiveness in the province.

“The DA believes the premier is dilly-dallying. It is almost two months since these young people died during an incompetently organised and gruelling candidate-selection programme held in stifling heat. Yet the commission has still not been launched and the families concerned are still waiting for answers,’’ he said.

It is also not clear what internal measures have been taken to ensure that the recruitment programme, which saw 35 000 applicants shortlisted out of 150 000, turn out for 90 jobs, would continue without further deaths.

Kwanele Ncalane, spokesperson for Transport MEC Willies Mchunu, said the commission was being handled by the premier’s office.

He failed to respond to detailed questions about internal steps taken to prevent another such tragedy

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