Developer may be forced to demolish collapsed Tongaat mall

2013-11-22 08:20

The eThekwini Metro municipality is considering trying to force a developer to demolish the illegal shopping mall that partially collapsed in Tongaat, north of Durban, killing a woman and injuring 29 people.

“Council is now looking at options not only of bringing an action for [a] contempt of court decision, but also the possibility of an order for the owner to demolish the collapsed structure,” eThekwini metro municipal manager Sibusiso Sithole said yesterday.

Mayor James Nxumalo revealed on Wednesday that the property’s developer and owner, Rectangle Property Investments, had not obtained planning permission to build the mall.

In fact, it was ordered by the Durban High Court on November 14 to stop construction until planning permission had been obtained.

Despite the court order, Gralio Construction continued to build the mall, and on Tuesday evening, a portion the size of a soccer field collapsed.

At the time, it was not known how many people were on the poorly-fenced construction site, and 50 people were initially feared trapped.

Officially, only one person remains unaccounted for, according to KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Lieutenant Mandy Govender.

However, the police could not rule out the possibility that others were buried beneath the slab that had collapsed.

“We are not ruling out that there were other people on site, but only one contractor has told us that they are missing an employee,” Govender said.

A crane was removing rubble on the site yesterday, as members of the police search and rescue unit watched. Three workers planted poles for a fence around the mall.

Lieutenant Jack Haskins of the Pietermaritzburg K9 search and rescue unit said the dogs had picked up one scent.

“But it’s coming from under the slab. It could be 20 metres away. We don’t know, but we will have to clear more rubble before we can send in the dogs to find out what it is.”

The scent could come from a body or from an item with blood on it that was left behind by one of the rescued workers taken to hospital.

Gralio Construction, some of whose workers were among the injured, could not be reached for comment.

A receptionist said: “I have just been asked to take messages and someone will get back to you.” No one did.

KwaZulu-Natal chief labour inspector Abey Raspae confirmed that no other bodies had been found.

He said the department had not been told how many people were not accounted for.

Govender said a culpable homicide docket had been opened. She said this was standard procedure in the event of a death, and it was too early to say who would be charged.

Labour department spokesperson Nhlanhla Khumalo said activities at the site had been stopped for the day and would resume today.

The mall was scheduled to open in March.

The DA yesterday accused the city of handing Gralio a R101 million tender for a low cost housing development, despite the Tongaat mall collapse.

Sithole denied this and said the R101 million Cornubia housing project the DA was referring to was in fact an old contract awarded in 2011.

He said he rejected the awarding of the tender, but was overruled by the municipality’s appeals authority and the courts, and that the process was finalised only in October.

“After exhausting all the options for a non-award, it was considered prudent to proceed with Gralio,” said Sithole, who accused the DA of cheap electioneering tactics.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.