Falling glass panes cut Gateway shoppers

2014-03-18 00:00

A FREAK incident at the Gateway Theatre of Shopping Mall on Saturday left several members of a Pietermaritzburg family injured, after a glass pane from a dome fell on them.

The Maharaj family had just finished having supper and were on the lower ground floor (near Checkers and Spar) when a glass pane from a dome several floors above came crashing down on them.

“We didn’t know what was happening. I just felt a heavy blow on my back and I actually thought a chandelier had fallen on me and I was burning because of that,” said Leela Maharaj.

She said all she felt was an intense heat all over her head and then some liquid running down her body.

“It was only after I saw that the liquid was blood and saw glass on the floor that I realised what had happened. I immediately started looking for my children,” said Maharaj, a school teacher.

Fearing the worst when she saw her 22-year-old daughter Tasha, bleeding profusely from her head, Maharaj said she forgot all about her injuries. “I could not believe what was happening … all around me I could see my children and relatives all injured and bleeding in some way. Looking at my daughter with blood pouring from her head, I was hysterical,” said Maharaj.

Tasha, who was hit on the back of her neck, forehead and centre of her head by glass, lost a tremendous amount of blood at the shopping mall.

She has since received nine stitches each to the open wound on her forehead and centre of her head.

She, too, complained about feeling an intense heat when first hit with the glass.

“I just felt this thud on my head that was extremely painful … I felt like I was going to fall and was quite dizzy. A few seconds before that I heard people screaming but before I could ascertain what was going on, this glass came down on us,” said Tasha.

Maharaj said they were still trying to get rid of the hundreds of pieces of glass embedded in their skin, clothing and hair.

“We still feel there is glass in our noses and in our ears. We have been to our private doctor and we continue to receive medical treatment,” said Maharaj.

She said while they were initially treated at the Umhlanga Hospital, where the shopping centre picked up the bill, they were just given tetanus injections, had their wounds cleaned up and given an ointment to apply.

Others injured in the incident were Maharaj’s son Rivaash, an engineer, his fiancée Ratna Maharaj, and her sister Tharinadevi Sharma.

They all suffered severe lacerations over their bodies and were treated at the Umhlanga Hospital.

The family’s attorney Surendra Singh said the family reserved their legal rights against the shopping mall and were in the process of drawing up a claim.

Gateway PR manager Sane Ndlovu confirmed that six shoppers had received medical treatment “for minor lacerations after a pane of glass fell from a glass dome at Gateway Theatre of Shopping on Saturday afternoon”.

“Gateway Centre Management continues to liaise with the families and shoppers concerned. A full investigation is under way to determine the cause of the incident,” said Ndlovu.

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