Dying for a job: Sanele Ngcobo (22)

2013-02-03 09:59

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The tragic deaths of eight people in a fitness test for aspirant traffic officers have been forgotten all too soon. Sphumelele Mngoma revisits their stories.

In April, Ngcobo’s mother would have watched her son in a graduation robe, taking to the stage with other University of Zululand graduates.

Instead, Thembi Ngcobo (62) from Sobantu in Pietermaritzburg buried her only remaining child.

“It was just the two of us left. He had four brothers. Now they are all dead,” she cried.

She now keeps his photograph in her wardrobe so she doesn’t have to see it.

“I’m angry because my son died due to gross negligence. How could there have been no water when they expected these kids to run in the boiling heat? How could there have been no paramedics? I will never forgive them. They robbed my son of his future,” she said.

A single mother, Thembi struggled to put her children through school. Before Ngcobo’s death, she had just paid the remaining R5?000 of his university bill.

“I did it gladly because he was such a respectful child. We were extremely close. He had big dreams for us. He used to tell me: ‘Mom, as soon as I get a job, we are moving.’ He wanted to buy me a house in a safe neighbourhood since I’m alone during the day,” she said.

It was his passion to be a traffic officer that pushed him to run.

“As long as I can remember, he wanted to be a traffic cop. So much so that he wanted to do it straight after matric. But his older brother would not allow him.

“He told him there would be no traffic cop in this family. He forced him to go to university,” Thembi said.

Ngcobo had just returned from university for holidays when he saw an advert in a newspaper and “worked like a madman” to submit the forms.

“I gave him my blessing because I could see that’s where his heart was. I didn’t know it would cost me my son.”

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