RTI probe squabbles over beer comment

2013-11-28 00:00

A TRAFFIC officer testifying before the RTI Commission of Inquiry yesterday was forced to retract a statement that the presence of beer bottles inside and outside Harry Gwala Stadium meant that those participating in fitness tests were drunk.

The commission, headed by advocate Thandi Norman, is probing the deaths of eight people during a recruiting exercise at the Pietermaritzburg stadium last December.

RTI Senior Control Provincial Inspector Msawenkosi Nzimakwe said in his statement that “there were a lot of beer bottles inside and outside the Harry Gwala Stadium after the first day, which means that participants could have been drinking”.

Cross-examining Nzimakwe, Health Department legal representative advocate Thulani Khuzwayo said that relatives and friends had accompanied aspirant recruits to the fitness tests and had also been at the stadium.

Nzimakwe said he was aware that not only recruits had been at the stadium.

“It was a general observation, but I assumed because I did not see anyone actually drinking,” he said.

Khuzwayo insisted that Nzimakwe’s statement was wrong and asked him to acknowledge that his assumption was wrong.

“This statement gives a bad impression about participants.

“Do you accept that you were fundamentally wrong to say participants must have been drunk?”

Nzimakwe said it was an assumption on his part.

Khuzwayo insisted Nzimakwe should accept that he had no evidence to back his statement.

Nzimakwe did not reply.

The commission continues its hearing today.

Initially scheduled to conduct its work between March and August this year, it was given an extension until March 30, 2014 to present a report on the incident.

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