RTI inquiry: no witness to death

2014-01-23 00:00

ALTHOUGH there were 25 000 people present at the RTI fitness tests when a man was found dead with his throat slit, no one seems to have seen anything.

Counsel advocate Nomusa Khuzwayo yesterday said at the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) Commission of Inquiry, that she found it strange that she had been unable to find one person who could explain the death of Sanele Ngcobo. Ngcobo was found outside the stadium with his throat slit, allegedly having committed suicide after he was led to believe he had failed to qualify.

Evidence led at the commission yesterday caused some confusion about how this could have happened.

Senior personnel officer Philisa Miya was one of the extra personnel seconded to Pietermaritzburg to handle the massive influx of applications for the 90 vacancies within the RTI and was on duty on December 27 and 28, 2012 at the fitness tests at Harry Gwala Stadium.

Candidates were required to do a four-kilometre run within a specific time to determine if they could go through to the next stage of the elimination.

Miya helped successful candidates fill in forms. Senior advocate Ravi Padayachee, representing the Transport Department, asked Miya to explain how the procedure worked. She said the applicants were divided into alphabetical groups of roughly 400 and were released to run the allocated course.

Those who finished in time would enter the stadium through gate two and when the time had elapsed, the gate, manned by police and traffic officers, was closed. Miya admitted that some of those who had completed the course within the time had health difficulties.

Inside the Harry Gwala Stadium there was a health tent manned by nurses and EMS paramedics, and outside the stadium there was another health tent and ambulances. Miya testified that one of the victims, Lenny Nxumalo, was the first runner home in his category.

She said he had not come to get his form, but instead sat down close to the gate.

“I think he could not breathe and he acted like he had lost power. He would stand and sit and then stand and sit.” Miya said she called a paramedic to assist Nxumalo but he refused to co-operate and would not accept the liquid sachet they offered.

When they tried to get him to go to the nursing tent Nxumalo allegedly became violent. Miya told the commission that she also saw Sanele Ngcobo.

In her statement she said that at 5.30 pm she saw a group of people surrounding a man she believed was Ngcobo who was lying on the ground outside the stadium. Miya said she heard people saying Ngcobo was upset because he failed to qualify, and so he had slit his throat with a bottle. Under cross-examination, Miya said it was dark and she did not actually see who was on the ground.

Advocate Khuzwayo refuted Miya’s evidence. She recalled the evidence given by EMS paramedic Lindiwe Shoba, who had testified that she had been called outside the stadium to attend to a man who had slit his throat at 3 pm. She said the man’s body was found alone in the bushes.

Advocate Khuzwayo also recalled the testimony of another witness who had testified, Nkosinathi Nzimande, who said he had been running behind Ngcobo, and they both qualified within the time frame.

Ngcobo sat on the ground feeling sick and Nzimande offered to go and fetch the forms for himself and Ngcobo, but by the time he had returned, Ngcobo was gone.

Khuzwayo said she would also produce a witness who would testify that he finished in the required time but did not have his ID book with him because he did not have pockets in his shorts. When he returned to the personnel officers with the ID they refused to process his application.

Khuzwayo said, “I can find no witnesses that have come forward to say what happened to Mr Ngcobo. Out of 25 000 people nobody saw anything. I find that strange.”

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