Heat fells job seekers

2012-12-28 00:00

PARAMEDICS had their hands full yesterday, ferrying dehydrated job applicants to Pietermaritzburg hospitals when 17 500 youths joined a recruitment drive for trainee traffic inspectors at Harry Gwala Stadium.

The desperate hopefuls underwent a fitness test in searing heat yesterday and scenes of chaos followed as dozens fell to the ground in exhaustion.

A paramedic told The Witness that Edendale Hospital, where the applicants needing treatment were sent, quickly filled up and eventually stopped accepting patients.

The Department of Health was unable to confirm this.

By 2.30 pm, on the advice of doctors, the exercise was stopped. Today another 17 500 applicants will go through the same routine.

Candidates had to run four kilometres around the stadium, with women given 30 minutes to finish and men 25 minutes.

Only 90 posts, for trainee provincial traffic inspectors, are up for grabs. The pay is R7 500 a month. 

But the Department of Transport was swamped with 150 000 applications, which were whittled down to 35 000.

The shortlisted applicants came from all over KwaZulu-Natal and waited patiently in scorching heat, some visibly drained and others restless from hours of queuing.

The Witness watched as the exhausted applicants were carried by arms and legs to waiting ambulances.

“We should pause this exercise due to other people’s ill health as some people are already in hospital,” said the stadium’s announcer just after 2 pm.

“We have to wait until the sun goes down so we can continue.”

That left some applicants unhappy, and they insisted they would bear the heat and sign an indemnity form to continue.

Department spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane said the vacancies were advertised on the Transport Department website.

“This shows that there are more people who are interested in being our law enforcers in this province.”

Successful applicants will undergo a year of training and receive uniforms and accommodation.

The mercury hit a high of 31°C in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Paramedics, police and road inspectors were on stand-by to control the crowd.

Many did not finish the race and had to endure the agony of seeing the gates closed on them, indicating the end of their job interview.

Those who got through in the allotted time will go through to the next phase, a driving test.

Andrew Layman, chief executive officer of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it was a sign of how desperate people were to get jobs.

“Even if they see that the numbers of positions are limited, they still try,” Layman said.

One applicant was Sherona Kaulasar from Howick, who was happy to be shortlisted for the second round.

“I am looking forward to the next test, I have been waiting for the big break in my life.

“The weather really was not on our side. People were collapsing along the way and ambulances had to transport them away,” Kaulasar said.

Nonhlanhla Dlamini, a parent from Newcastle, said it was unfair for the applicants to be called when the department knew the group was large.

“We used our money to come here for nothing, with my kids.

“They managed to be selected and they will have to come again.

“But with the large number that turned up here, the chances are slim of them getting this training.”

Last night the area in and around the stadium was still packed with people and cars.

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