Let’s be honest with ourselves, traffic cops in South Africa are not the most popular of public servants out there. Every now and again they do a good job of making the roads safer, but for the most part they can be found hiding in bushes trying to catch motorists going faster than the speed limit and pronouncing the word 3 as “free”. It’s not the type of job that you would ever associate with strenuous exercise (unless you consider, eating samoosas exercise), which is why it’s even more odd that 7 hopeful applicants died during a traffic cop fitness test entrance exam.
Around 34,000 people had the suitable qualifications required to fill one of the 90 advertised trainee posts in the KwaZulu Natal Traffic Department (you read that right 34 000 vs 90). The unemployed group of 18-20 year olds who had applied, all received an sms telling them that they had been “shortlisted” for the posts and would need to complete a 4km run within half an hour to meet the minimum fitness requirements for the force (Ok what?! There is no minimum fitness level – I mean how tired can you get waving your arms around directing traffic?).
Unfortunately for them, by the time they started their tests the temperature had soared to around 33 degrees C inside Pietermaritzburg’s Harry Gwala stadium and with very little access to water, things went downhill very quickly. As far as I could ascertain 6 applicants died from dehydration and exhaustion with another, offing himself after he found out he didn’t make the cut.
Seriously guys (KwaZulu Traffic Department) – I know you dig the whole power-trip thing but taking advantage of young people who are desperate for jobs like this really isn’t cool. Thankfully, the head of this particular Regional Traffic Department has been suspended.