Suicide victim was seen at finish line

2013-07-01 21:35
Harry Gwala Stadium (Picture: The Witness)

Harry Gwala Stadium (Picture: The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Assertions that a man cut his throat because he failed a KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) fitness test were disputed on Monday.

"I disagree with the suggestion that Sanele Ngcobo did not finish running the race within the allocated time, because I saw him after he finished running," Nkosinathi Nzimande told a commission of inquiry in Pietermaritzburg.

Earlier, the commission heard that Ngcobo cut his throat with a broken bottle because he failed the fitness test.

Nzimande said he and Ngcobo shook hands after the race. "I saw Ngcobo finish the race," he said.

The commission is probing the deaths of eight people who participated in a 4km run at the Harry Gwala Stadium, in Pietermaritzburg, in December.

The run was part of a fitness test for RTI job applicants.

More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for 90 advertised trainee posts.

A total of 15 600 applicants attended a fitness test on 27 December and a similar number on 28 December.

Nzimande said Ngcobo went missing while waiting in the queue to register with those who had successfully finished the race, but that he did not hear a commotion or anyone saying someone had cut their throat.

While cross-examining Nzimande, Advocate Ravenda Padayachee, for the provincial transport department, said statements from a doctor, a paramedic, and a transport official indicated Ngcobo committed suicide.

None of them saw Ngcobo slit his throat, but heard this from people at the stadium.

There was a 13cm wound across his neck. Two doctors who operated on him at Grey's Hospital had said he died of blood loss, Padayachee said.

Wanting to support a family

Ngcobo's aunt Thembi Ngcobo said she did not believe it when a nurse at Grey's Hospital told her that her nephew had cut himself with a bottle.

"When I saw him at the mortuary he had a plaster put on his neck from left to right," she said.

"It was then that I realised that he was the one referred to as having committed suicide."

She said her nephew, the father of a 3-month-old son, was desperate to find a job because he wanted to take over raising his son.

"He told me that I had worked hard [raising his child]. The following year he would go find work to relieve me," she said.

Ngcobo had been taking care of her nephew since 2000, after his mother died. At the time of his death, Ngcobo was in his final year of study for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Zululand.

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