Premier traumatised by fitness test deaths

2013-01-09 22:30

Pietermaritzburg - The deaths of eight aspirant traffic officers in KwaZulu-Natal has traumatised people beyond the borders of the province, Premier Zweli Mkhize told mourners in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday.

"The first thing that I must admit is that this whole episode has traumatised me, my family, my colleagues and a lot of people, not just in KwaZulu-Natal," he said at a memorial service in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall.

Mkhize said everyone in the province had also been touched.

The eight people died during a training session conducted in sweltering heat at Harry Gwala Stadium, in Pietermaritzburg, on 27 December.

More than 34 000 people applied for 90 advertised trainee posts, and 15 600 of them attended the fitness test.

An unknown number collapsed because of the heat and had to be taken to hospital.

The department stopped the process amid an uproar about the deaths.

Mkhize said the deaths were a reflection of the scramble for jobs.

He applauded the reaction of political parties, which had conducted themselves well by not blaming the government for what had happened.

"This is reflection of the growth of our democracy in the province, when you consider that we come from a past of intolerance. In this matter there was no finger pointing."

Earlier, Transport MEC Willies Mchunu told mourners a report about the deaths had been compiled and presented to the premier.

"As the department, we subject ourselves before the premier, government and the legislature, and we will accept any sanction deemed appropriate," he said.

Mchunu said he was still getting calls from applicants wanting to know when the screening process would resume, and he said this illustrated people's desperation for jobs.

He said screening trials would now be decentralised to ensure applicants' tests were not concentrated in any one part of the province.

  • adrian.k.andrews - 2013-01-09 22:57

    My dearest and sincere condolences, a heart-felt apology to all the deceased family.. It's sad... Some1 needs to be held accountable!!!

      jason.children - 2013-01-10 07:05

      Dont see any Premiers coming out and being traumertised by the brutal murders of two 79 year olds. Or the thousands of murders in SA every year. FFS

      tc.convulvulous - 2013-01-10 07:21

      Nonsense.. The premier does not care one damn bit!

      werner.nel.984786 - 2013-01-10 07:35

      It just shows you how cursed the ANC is. Even a routine fitness test for some people applying for jobs turn into 7 dead!

      gideon.walt - 2013-01-10 08:04

      Pathetic on all sides. Another failure on the frontline.

      squeegee.pilot - 2013-01-10 08:39

      Wrong Premier! We are pointing fingers at the government. Accept responsibility; or are you going to commission a study into why it gets hot in KZN?

      frank.kistler.31 - 2013-01-10 10:49

      Wow....well one thing is for certain...S.A has to shape up fitness!!!!!!!!!

  • Twolips - 2013-01-09 23:00

    The whole selection process is/was flawed. Some of the very overweight applicants should not even have been selected after the first round. A medical exam should have been done, eliminating more of the applicants. Tests on rules of the road should have eliminated many of them after that Then with 200 or so applicants left a decision for the 90 posts could have been made after a personal interviews. There was simply no need for this ridiculous "marathon" on such a hot day.

      adinparadise - 2013-02-19 23:55

      You're so right, Twolips. The whole exercise was totally unnecessary and very badly thought out.

  • darryl.strachan.71 - 2013-01-09 23:02

    Yes it is sad in deed and the dept should take the responsibility for what happened. I just wish that they re-look at the fitness criteria and also that of their training... Considering that this is what you have to do just to get in, imagine what will happen once you are in... Seniors are not considering climate change and the will continue to do this extreme exercises in very hot tempretures with total disregard for the health or safety of the trainees as they are not doing the exercises themselves... They should have a complete overview and overlook of the entire training programs

      philip.cremer.14 - 2013-01-10 08:04

      Extreme? a 4KM run in 30 minutes is slower than what a high school student can do it in. an average adult WALKS at 5KM per hour. It is actually a joke that this is the criteria to become a member of the force. Have you seen the size of our police officers? they cannot run to save their lives! look at the police forces around the world and you will see what a joke our officers are. they need to have clothes made to order as the normal sizes do not fit. How exactly are they supposed to run after someone when they cant even see their own feet? I have run a lot further and in a lot hotter than these idiots. What ever happened to self preservation? If you arent able to do it, dont do it! Darwin awards should apply here.

      squeegee.pilot - 2013-01-10 08:40

      Philip I nominate you!

      richard.young.1253236 - 2013-01-10 12:23

      In reply to Philip Cremer, it is true that this was a low effort test. 8 km in 30 minutes is slow. In the good ole, bad ole days in the SADF standard troops had to do the 2,4 km in about 11 minutes(Parabats and special forces did a 3,2 or 3,6 in not much more time). And that's with R1 rifle, a couple of loaded magazines, webbing, steel helmet, boots and a couple of water bottles. It's not that difficult (but still nothing to be laughed about). But the difference is the heat and lack of water. That can kill even a parabat. That's why one is taught to drink water before and during, the "stitch" from drinking water is actually an old wives' tale that got outed in the last couple of decades of the last millennium. If a junior leader had a troop collapse with dehydration or heat exhaustion, let alone killing 7 of them, he would be in for the high jump, not the troop. And that's where things went wrong here. The selection co-ordinators should never have allowed the run to be done in the heat of midday Pitermaritzburg in summer. Secondly, there should have been clear advice on drinking water and thirdly there should have been water available at reasonable distance intervals. That's if such a fitness test is appropriate at all in an initial selection process.

  • sally.lewitt - 2013-01-09 23:14

    I wonder if the families and friends of these 8 dead people are traumatised..? Ever hear about Risk Assessment and Common sense..?

  • rollingstone.kanyane - 2013-01-09 23:21

    Traumatised by what? these people do things deliberately and later claim trauma how on earth do one consider 34000 application for 90 vacant positions just to ask this is cruel incompetency

      squeegee.pilot - 2013-01-10 08:42

      Too lazy to sift through the applications so some bright-spark came up with the idea of a fitness test.

  • BulletProof. - 2013-01-09 23:33

    Does anybody gets traumatized with the slaugter of eldery peope, farmers and many others like that in this country? I am looking for some high government entity that declares that in public.

  • franklyn.davies.1 - 2013-01-09 23:45

    This tragedy illustrated incompetancy beyond wonder other political parties are speechless.

  • George - 2013-01-09 23:45

    Who in dey rite mind consider 34600 application for 90 vacantcy I mean realy nw ( dey were asking for trouble) nt even 3000 the person to blame is da 1 who decided to let 16200 pple cume for a assesment on that scourting day dats da 1 to blame

  • - 2013-01-10 00:03

    Fitness test for selection to be traffic officers? They don't need that. Always hiding behind bushes sitting on campmaster chairs. Is that what fitness required for?

  • kazzara - 2013-01-10 01:10

    My condolences to the family's of the deceased. Why the strenuos fitness tests and training,are they running after pedestrains to fine them for j-walking???wtf,and who considers more than three times the advertised posts,applications?

  • Michael Kleber - 2013-01-10 05:54

    get the existing metros fit rather

  • richard.payn.12 - 2013-01-10 05:56

    As part of the government is he not traumatised by the 45+ murders each day?

  • johannes.ramara - 2013-01-10 06:15

    The applicants were subjected to this kind of treatment because they followed the right channels to apply for the vacancies. They were being treated badly because officials did not get bribes. If they were the ones that this vacancies were organised nothing could had happened. This manslaughter and somebody must be charged.

      tersia.louw.12 - 2013-01-10 09:59

      Rather than manslaughter, I wish we had a charge of "depraved indifference" in SA.

  • Robert Duncan - 2013-01-10 06:46

    instructors were morons. Mind you the top brass don't have much of a brain.

  • jeremy002 - 2013-01-10 06:48

    Seems to me that the people in charge at the time failed to take the necessary precautions against heat exhaustion. I doubt that many, if any at all, actually died from the fitness test itself. Raging incompetence.

      piet.fourie.77 - 2013-01-10 07:10

      Most deffinately not due to the scramble for jobs but due to the total incompetence of the orga nisers. Take note Mkuse !

  • mark.booysen - 2013-01-10 06:49

    I agree, get the current officers fit as well. I was pulled over in JHB by a metro cop some time ago. It took her almost 2 minutes to get out of her car due to her size. When she eventually got to my car she was unable to speak properly due to her being to out of breath.

  • richard.young.1253236 - 2013-01-10 06:58

    A water tanker every 500 metres would have eliminated 99% of the heat exhaustion and dehydration. A very tragic incident indeed.

  • leon.j.steyn - 2013-01-10 07:53

    Sad story BUT the heading to this article is inaccurate! The people are traumatised, not the premier.

  • bob.small.7547 - 2013-01-10 07:53

    Someone needs to be held accountable over this for failing to consider what may have potentially happened with this fitness test! Now just imagine how many of our own police officers would befall to the same fate if they tried to do the same fitness test as the applicants did! Our police force is made up of fat lazy unfit people!

  • michael.mckinon.1 - 2013-01-10 08:05

    I agree, to interview 30 000 people for 90 post is ridiculous no matter how desperate people are. The field should have been narrowed and a short list below 500 should have been created. Then under nor circumstances should a medical / physical have been performed in that heat. I was on holiday in PMB at the time of the tests and it certainly was the hottest December in PMB that I can remember. If I had lost a family member I would be laying some serious charges and be employer some high powered advocates. To have allowed the tests to even have been started in that weather is in my opinion criminal!

  • rollingstone.kanyane - 2013-01-10 08:06

    And according to the SACP your ANC is the servant of the dead applicants nxaa circus

  • rowan.maulson - 2013-01-10 08:14

    This will be harsh, but the Premier couldn't give 2 hoots about the dead people, other than the lawsuits that might arise from it. It is sad that they died, but the blame rests squarely on the people organising the selection, and the fact that a basic fitness check was not performed prior to making them run 4kms

  • GregGow1234 - 2013-01-10 08:22

    This is very dramatic headline. Why did the incompetent officials not follow the normal testing procedure? OH YES they are incompetent, the knobs. Fire them all.

  • kgabo.patrick.7 - 2013-01-10 08:28

    I was tested for fitnes @PTA last year,hey its painful but it was 2,4KM within 11min some we passed No call No sms we received even 2day!!may their soul RIP

  • michael.mckinon.1 - 2013-01-10 08:33

    I'd also like to know who fits the bill for an interview process of 30 000 people, us taxpayers as usual, this is another matter entirely and should not detract from the deaths, however this is yet another example of how our funds are squandered daily without any thought!!!

  • chandre.p.pretorius - 2013-01-10 08:38

    Mmm no finger pointing... How about not advertising ems\fire\saps\metro as just an ordinary job. People should know they there to provide life saving service. How is an unfit cop gonna chase suspects? Or sorry I can't lift my gun its too heavy? It was the departments fault that proper procedure was not in place and its not democracy its the government not providing enough job opportunities to black and white that people became so desperate that they willing to try anything and everything. And then it ends up killing them....

  • aroka.murombe - 2013-01-10 08:53

    Traumatized say u are joking

  • warren.rodel - 2013-01-10 08:58

    In the story called Animal Farm, this sounds like the part where the government start abusing the hard working horses.

  • erich.goosen - 2013-01-10 09:05

    Apart from the sad consequences, what should be more traumatising is the fact that there are senior officials in the Department of Transport in KZN that lack the insight to realise that this kind of exercise is life-threatening. Get rid of them, their knowledge (or lack thereof) costed the lives of people.

  • malamulela.ndoro - 2013-01-10 09:10

    To what extent must a president fail and be corrupt to be removed? Please like FB page:

  • zongamele.keli - 2013-01-10 09:18

    another Marikana??????? I wonder what's next,where,what,why?

  • andy.meyer.923 - 2013-01-10 09:19

    No the government is right, have you seen what the traffic police look like they can't run or even walk. If they are unfit they shouldn't have applied for the work.I feel sorry for the people that passed but they shouldn't have applied.

  • sibongile.makopi - 2013-01-10 09:34

    I was traumatised by a coffin and a car wreckage placed by the KZN Department of Transport at the junction towards Harding just before you get to Kokstad.Its not a good omen and exiting sight, if you are still to drive another 700 kilometers or so to Gauteng.

      su.quinn.5 - 2013-01-10 12:15

      If it kept you alive it did its work.

  • su.quinn.5 - 2013-01-10 12:13

    Give the new applicants a hamburger and sign them up.

  • flynn.govender - 2013-01-10 13:37

    I have never ever seen a qualified traffic officer run before. They do not chase anyone, they stop you and thereafter they give you a fine. Yes, the SAPS run after suspects not our traffic officers. 4km in 30 minutes - that is ample time to finish the course even with the heat factor. These applicants knew that they would have to run 4km in 30 minutes, why didn't they at least prepare by doing some training

  • Passionate.Parrot - 2013-01-10 13:41

    Strange is'nt it, it is always the previous government's fault. Why not lay the blame where it lies at the people doing the test. Surely they should have been trained themselves. Anyone knows that it is dangerous to become dehydrated. Please accept responsibility for this and stop blaming the previous government. The reason there is so much unemployemnent is a different issue altogether. Why were so many people taken on to do the test in the first place? Sounds like bad planning to me.

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