Fitness test deaths: witness’s medical state questioned

A woman claiming to have suffered seizures after taking part in a fitness test that claimed eight lives in KwaZulu-Natal was alert and lucid in hospital, staff said.

This emerged yesterday from records submitted in an inquiry sitting in Pietermaritzburg into the eight deaths.

Ravi Padayachee, SC, for the KwaZulu-Natal transport department, said records were obtained from Edendale Hospital.

They recorded Nonhlanhla Mlambo as showing “no confusion, no seizures, no nausea and vomiting, and no diarrhoea.”

Mlambo previously claimed she did not recall being taken to hospital after collapsing on December 28 after running a 4km course.

The commission was appointed by KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize earlier this year to probe the deaths of eight people who took part in a 4km run at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg in December.

This formed part of a fitness test for Road Traffic Inspectorate job applicants.

More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for the 90 advertised trainee posts. A total of 15 600 applicants attended a fitness test on December 27 and a similar number on December 28.

An unknown number of them collapsed due to the heat, and many were taken to hospital.

Mlambo was one of those admitted to hospital. She was discharged a day after being admitted.

Mlambo said she had swollen legs and was carried from the hospital upon her discharge. Padayachee said hospital records showed she had properly recovered.

She had claimed she had finished the course in the required time, but Padayachee said there were no records she had done so.

Mlambo admitted that prior to the day of the fitness test she had signed an indemnity form, in which she also undertook that she was healthy and fit enough to participate in the fitness test.

The commission is headed by senior counsel Thandi Norman. It continues next week on Tuesday.

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