Suicide in KZN fitness test recounted

bleepA paramedic saw a man cutting his own throat after he failed a KwaZulu-Natal Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) fitness test, an inquiry heard on Monday.

“He told me he was a failure and he deserved to die,” Emergency Medical Rescue Services supervisor Agrinette Shoba said.

“He was lying on his right side… holding a broken beer bottle in his right hand, and he had grabbed his throat with his left hand, and he was continuing to cut himself; at that stage, he was bleeding profusely,” Shoba said.

Shoba was testifying before a commission of inquiry in Pietermaritzburg about the death of Sanele Ngcobo, who was found with a 13cm wound across his neck after taking part in the fitness test.

The commission is probing the deaths of eight people who took part in a four kilometre run at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg.

The race formed part of a fitness test for RTI job applicants. More than 34 000 people qualified to apply for 90 advertised RTI trainee posts. Of these, 15 600 attended a fitness test on December 27, and a similar number on December 28.

Shoba said she was called by a young man, who told her there was someone outside the stadium who was screaming and bleeding. She went to investigate and found Ngcobo.

“There were no signs indicating that there was a struggle. He had the bottle neck on his neck, half of the bottle was behind him,” Shoba said.

“I commented on how he was smartly dressed and how he did not seem to come from a poor family. I said I see no reason for him to do something so painful.”

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. He was also the father of a three-month-old boy.

Shoba said when she spoke to Ngcobo he was cutting himself and he could understand what was going on.

His eyes were open, he could respond to instructions and he was verbally responsive.

“I could see how deep his wound was as he was talking, I could see bubbles coming out of his wound, his trachea was cut,” she said.

In July, Ngcobo’s aunt ,Thembi, told the commission that her nephew was desperate to find a job because he wanted to take over raising his son.

Shoba described the participants treated at the stadium as being dehydrated, hysterical and disorientated.

“They were seeing things that no other people could see. Others claimed to see their men coming to fetch them,” she said. – Sapa