RTI delay ‘a stalling tactic’

2014-12-29 00:00

TWO years on and the provincial government has failed to act against inept transport officials who organised the catastrophic traffic officer recruitment drive that left eight people dead.

Despite the KZN Department of Transport’s assurances that they will take action, including criminal prosecution, against officials, the police or the KZN Legislature have yet to be handed key detailed findings made by a specifically created commission of inquiry to begin with investigations and maintain accountability respectively.

To date no official has been suspended or disciplined for their role.

The confidential findings — some of which have been seen by The Witness — reveal how officials lied to the commission to cover up an alleged murder by claiming it was a suicide, manufactured documents, how officials failed to hold any formal planning sessions, listen to health officials who pleaded they end the event, provide water or medical support or even inform the Msunduzi Municipality.

On December 27 and 28, 2012, over 35 000 people attended a Road Traffic Inspectorate recruitment drive for only 90 posts. Seven people died of either dehydration, renal or multiple organ failure while 22-year-old art student Sanele Ngcobo died after sustaining a 13 cm laceration to the trachea.

Spokesperson for the DoT, Kwanele Ncalane, said the reason for the delay is that the department still has “lots to plan”.

“It is being discussed at a provincial executive level. We are in the process of implementing the recommendations made by the commissions and there are deadlines we must try and meet,” he said.

A senior police officer with intimate knowledge of the investigation into the death of Ngcobo, said detectives from Alexandra Road SAPS have not been privy to any of the commission’s findings leading the investigation to remain cold for 24 months.

The officer confirmed that no one had been questioned or arrested and they have been “kept out of the loop” as senior state executives hold closed-door sessions.

“We can only act once the commission — who has conducted all the interviews — makes the findings available to us. Ngcobo’s docket is just lying in the station. They [the commission] have all the evidence. It is very frustrating for the investigators.”

The officer said they only knew Ngcobo’s case was found by the commission to be a possible murder and not suicide as initially claimed, after reading an earlier report in Weekend Witness.

Police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane confirmed the case was “still under investigation pending the outcome of the commission”.

Private investigator Pieter Kitshoff said the longer an investigation is delayed the harder it is to unearth the truth.

“With time people move away and others can pass away. The delays in finalising the report could also be a stalling technique to protect officials from thorough investigation,” said Kitshoff.

Already one key DoT official, Hamilton Nzimakwe, provincial inspector for Pietermaritzburg, who was found “not candid about his role” and who failed to alert his superior of the impending disaster, has died.

Rafeek Shah, KZN DA spokesperson for transport, claimed the KZN DoT and premier’s office were “deliberately stalling” by not releasing the report to the legislature for debate. “I have put a motion in the house, written to the speaker, the premier and the MEC for Transport. If the report is not released soon I might need to take another route [and look for legal recourse to force the release of the findings].”

KZN premier’s office spokesperson Ndabe Sibiya could not be reached for comment despite e-mails, voice mails and SMSes being sent.

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