‘Rush’ rattled dept

2014-01-22 00:00

DEPARTMENT of Transport human resources supervisor Lowell Pelser yesterday told the Commission of Inquiry into the death of eight Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) recruits that the rush to fill the vacant posts had driven her department to ask for extra staff.

This after a lengthy delay of some months between the posts being authorised and action being set in motion to fill the posts.

Pelser was being grilled under cross- examination as the commission into the deaths in December 2012 continued yesterday.

Lawyers and advocates representing the recruits wanted to know about the efficiency of the procedures that were followed before the fatal events where eight people died and others were hospitalised.

Pelser said she was on annual leave when it was discovered that 40  000 applicants had made it to the second stage; they had been sifted out from the more than 100 000 applications received.

She said when they realised the applications far exceeded what they anticipated, they asked for extra staff. Advocate Nomusa Khuzwayo asked Pelser why the HR department had not postponed the fitness event when they realised they had such a huge response to the advert.

Khuzwayo said the advert, which was released in early November, gave the HR department a very short space of time to deal with the applications.

Khuzwayo asked Pelser why the medical examination did not take place before the fitness test and asked if this was done to save the Department of Transport costs.

Pelser said costs were not the only consideration but that it was believed that the medical examination would be done only once suitable candidates had moved to the shortlisted phase.

Advocate Thulani Khuzwayo argued that many candidates on the list could have been exempted because of their ages, as applicants could not be older than 35.

Pelser was also questioned about whether or not the candidates were effectively scrutinised for criminal records and whether they were suitably screened according to the exact requirements as advertised.

Advocate Nomusa Khuzwayo said there were duplications on the final list of candidates.

She said she had a witness who would testify that she received two SMSes that asked her to come to the fitness test on both days.

Advocate Thulani Khuzwayo asked if Pelser knew why there was a delay between the authorisation (in the form of a letter) to fill the 815 posts, which was signed in July 2012, and why this was only acted on in October by human resources.

Pelser replied that she was only made aware of the new job openings in mid-October when it was announced at a sports day that the jobs were critical and to be filled urgently.

Pelser told the commission of inquiry that her boss Cindy Zwane, general manager of Human Resources, had issued instructions to her and her colleagues on how they would handle the recruitment process, and Zwane had been instructed by a task team.

Pelser also acknowledged under cross-examination by lawyer Sthembiso Kunene that the advert advised recruits to be fit and able to handle strenuous exercise. She said this wording was used in previous years when advertising for similar posts. The commission of inquiry will continue today.

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