Mall hearings begin

2014-02-10 00:00

DURBAN businessman Jay Singh and his family, who are implicated in questionable construction projects throughout eThekwini, will come under scrutiny in multiple hearings over the next five days.

Their business affairs are to be laid bare before a special commission of inquiry, the Durban high court and the office of the Public Protector over multiple alleged infringements including contempt of court, lies and fraud.

Singh rose to national prominence in November 2013 after being linked to the mall built in Tongaat without building approval and against a court order forbidding its construction, which collapsed, killing two people and injuring 29.

On Tuesday the the four-person Thongathi Mall Commission of Inquiry, led by Phumudzo Maphaha, an expert in the occupational health and safety sector, will begin questioning subpoenaed witnesses.

“We will run this inquiry the same as any criminal procedure. It will be just like a court of law and people will allowed to question and cross examine,” said Maphaha.

He said no timeframe can be given as every inquiry is dependent on unique circumstances.

The commission, based at the Tongaat municipal buildings, has been tasked with investigating what led to the mall collapsing and will in the process interview between 20 and 50 people.

• On Friday the city will haul the mall developer Rectangle Property Investments and their sole director Ravi Jagadasan — Singh’s eldest son — before the Durban high court for being in contempt of a high court order by continuing to build the mall despite being ordered by a judge not to.

The city, according to their court papers, said the court orders were “deliberately disregarded” by Jagadasan, who they want fined or “sentenced to imprisonment”.

Singh has previously told The Witness they will oppose the city’s motion.

• And on Wednesday a group of Phoenix residents will meet with the Public Protector’s office claiming more companies linked to Singh were fraudulently overpaid for housing projects he built in Phoenix and which he now rents to low income families.

The Phoenix Tenants Association (PTA), whose members all live in flats owned by Singh, will present the protector with a confidential report, seen by The Witness, and which was compiled by the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) in July 2013 that implicates Moko Rental Housing Project in being paid twice totalling R336 million, by the SHRA for construction of more than 1 200 low-income rental units in Phoenix.

Moko’s sole director is Shireen Annamalay, Singh’s wife. She is also a director of Woodglaze Trading, the company that built the houses.

The report alleges Moko had deliberately “deceived” the body by providing erroneous financial information.

Singh is a controversial figure whose construction company Gralio Precast has netted over R2 billion in tenders from eThekwini over the last decade. Gralio was found in 2012 by a report commissioned by the provincial government to have delivered housing projects to the city that were “shoddy” and “dangerous”.

Singh’s media spokesperson Melanie Moodley was sent questions, but had not respond before going to print.

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