Delays in RTI death probe questioned

2014-04-03 00:00

THE DA yesterday accused Premier Senzo Mchunu of failing to stick to his own deadline regarding the completion of work by the commission investigating the deaths and hospitalisation of traffic officer recruits.

“The premier and his ANC-led executive have shown little regard for the pain and suffering experienced by these families.

“For the families that have already waited for more than a year for the commission to complete its work, it signals more delays before they can find closure,” DA transport spokesperson Radley Keys said.

The commission, headed by advocate Thandi Norman, was first announced by former premier Zweli Mkhize in February 2013 following the deaths of eight Traffic Road Inspectorate recruits in Pietermaritzburg in December 2012.

It was initially scheduled to conduct its work between March and August 2013, but it started in April and was then given an extension because it had been unable to complete its work within the time frame.

The cost of the commission of inquiry almost tripled from its original budget as at the end of last year.

The Provincial Treasury initially allocated the commission a budget of R5,5 million, and it was increased to R7,6 million in June. The total costs incurred by the commission totalled R8,5 million as of September.

A further R5,7 million was then allocated, bringing its total to R14,2 million.

Keys said the commission should be finalised without any further delays and the outcome made public.

“Certainly, it must not be buried as in the case of the inquiry into the efficacy of the KZN SAPS, which took seven long years to see the light of day in the provincial parliament,” he said, adding the DA expected Mchunu to announce the commission’s outcome at the next sitting of the legislature on Tuesday.

Mchunu’s spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, accused the DA of sowing confusion and using the suffering of families of those who died for narrow political interests.

Sibiya said the provincial government has always pleaded with political parties to allow the commission to do its work without any political interference.

“We condemn the latest statement from the Democratic Alliance as it is aimed at using the commission to achieve political objectives. The unwarranted attack on KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu is unnecessary as the work of the commission is conducted publicly and not behind closed doors.” Sibiya said.

Sibiya explained how the commission’s work had unfolded on specified periods and the postponements it had been afforded.

He said the commission was now finishing its work and that there were four witnesses, three medical professionals and a departmental official, who still have to appear before the commission.

“Once the commission has wrapped up its work, a final report will be handed over to the premier at the end of May 2014.

“We, therefore, wish to caution the Democratic Alliance to desist from making such misleading statements as this will jeopardise the work of the commission,” he said.

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