A frantic search for lost friend

2013-05-22 00:00

THE RTI recruitment commission of inquiry yesterday heard how Njabulo Manqele frantically searched for his friend Sibonakaliso Mhlanga after the gruelling four-kilometre fitness run on December 27.

Manqele and Mhlanga, both from Adams Mission, were short-listed for the first round of the recruitment drive at Harry Gwala stadium.

He told the commission that they arrived at the stadium in the morning and had to wait until 7.30 pm before their turn to run.

The eThekwini College second year student said he finished the run at around 8 pm, but his friend was nowhere to be seen.

“I filled in the form issued to those who qualified for the next stage of the recruitment process. Having looked around for my friend, I then decided to go look for him in the car we were travelling in with the hope that he was waiting for me there,” he said.

Manqele said: “Sibonakaliso’s mother called asking for him. I told her that he might still be inside the stadium and that it was chaotic at the facility.”

He waited in the car, and later went back inside to search for his friend. He said he approached traffic officers relaying his concerns about his friend. The officers referred him to paramedics who could not help him in any way.

“I asked some traffic officers if there were any ambulances attending to people who might have needed medical attention after the race, but they had seen none,” Manqele said.

He said he then waited until 11 pm before paramedics instructed him to follow them to Northdale Hospital, to which some participants were being taken.

At the hospital, Manqele approached a security guard and gave him his friend’s description.

“The security guard gave me a list of names of people who had been admitted from the stadium, but Sibonakaliso’s name was not on the list. I decided to go back to the stadium, thinking that my friend must have fallen asleep on the benches,” he said.

But before he could leave the hospital, a nurse who had noticed him pacing up and down the hospital corridors called him.

“The nurse took me where I immediately recognised my friend’s takkies lying on the floor,” he said.

Manqele said his excitement at the discovery was short-lived as his friend’s face was covered with a sheet. When it was uncovered his whole body was swollen and the nurses told him that he was already dead.

“I gave them contact numbers for Sibonakaliso’s mother so that they could break the news to her,” he said.

The inquiry continues tomorrow, when Ravi Padayachee, for the RTI, will cross-examine Manqele.

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