‘RTI called meeting at 11th hour’

2013-07-15 00:00

THE RTI recruitment commission of inquiry heard how “an urgent disaster management meeting” was called at the eleventh hour by the Transport Department officials.

This emerged during the testimony of Msunduzi Municipality’s disaster management officer Michael Amod on Friday.

The commission was set up by KZN Premier Dr Zweli Mkhize to investigate the death of eight applicants who had participated in the mandatory four-kilometre run as part of the recruitment fitness tests on December 27 and 28. A total of 40 700 applicants had turned up for the 90 positions advertised.

Amod said he had only heard about the event late on December 27 when they were called for an urgent disaster management cluster meeting at 5.30 pm. By this time the fitness event had already started, and in the ensuing chaos some of the recruits had already been taken to various city hospitals.

Amod said it was the responsibility of the organisers to provide extra water tanks, ablution facilities and safety and security measures.

He said he had been part of disaster management in other huge events taking place at Harry Gwala stadium, but this event was not immediately brought to their attention so that prior planning could have been done.

According to him, the Health Department was not involved in the cluster meeting, and his suggestion that extra help be sourced due to the huge number of applicants that exceeded the stadium’s capacity, was not adhered to. “When there is going to be an event with so many people, we work with the police and the event itself is classified as low risk, medium risk or high risk,” said Amod.

If it was classified as medium risk, a letter from the police provincial commission is sent to them and if it is a high risk, it is done by the national commissioner, he added. In this case it was not classified, which meant is was considered to be low risk. Amod said the municipality gave the Transport Department an indemnity letter to say that if anything should happen, the department would be held responsible. The commission continues today.

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