Top KZN advocate to head ‘dying for jobs’ inquiry

2013-03-01 00:00

THE families of eight jobseekers who died in a botched recruitment drive for trainee traffic officers in December last year, are one step closer to getting answers.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, used his annual state of the province address yesterday, to announce who would head the commission of inquiry that was mooted two months ago, after the December tragedy.

Durban senior counsel, Thandi Norman, will head the inquiry, while Anglican Bishop Rubin Phillip and advocate Thandani Mthembu will also serve as commissioners.

Attorney Sthembiso Kunene has been appointed evidence leader investigator and Bongekile Zulu as his assistant.

Mkhize said the provincial government was determined to handle the matter within the framework of the law to ensure that such a tragedy did not happen again. Yesterday, the families of the deceased recruits welcomed the announcement, saying they were at the point of giving up hope.

Nompumelelo Kunene, from Newcastle, whose brother Lindokuhle died in the incident, wants the commission to be transparent.

Thembinkosi Nxumalo from Pietermaritzburg whose son Lenny died urged the commission to be thorough.

“Those responsible must be prosecuted. How can you allow a larger number of people to participate in the test while you know that only few posts need to be filled?” he asked.

The tragedy occurred when the KZN Transport Department short-listed 35 000 for 90 traffic posts. The department then held fitness tests over two days to try to whittle down the numbers.

Recruits were made to run four kilometres in sweltering heat, with no provision made to supply them with water.

Aside from those who died, hundreds were treated for dehydration, with many were hospitalised.

Another job hopeful,Thami Dlamini (25) was still in hospital, six weeks after the incident having suffered kidney failure because of dehydration.

Phillip told The Witness churches had been angered by the deaths of the young recruits and had asked to be included in any enquiry that was to be set up.

“We wanted to ensure that there would be justice and fairplay in the investigation of an incident that should not have happened in the first place.”

Phillip sees his role on the commission as ensuring that the process is just and fair. “I also see my role as ensuring that this happens as quickly as possible and that it does not get dragged out.

“I feel a prolonged process will cause the families more pain and trauma. They have suffered enough,” he said.

Details on when the commission would being its hearings were not available yesterday.

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