Tongaat mall: Workers instructed to keep working

2014-02-12 20:29
Rescue workers at the site of a collapsed mall construction site in Tongaat. (Giordano Stolley, Sapa)

Rescue workers at the site of a collapsed mall construction site in Tongaat. (Giordano Stolley, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Durban - A slab of concrete at the ill-fated Tongaat mall sagged in the days leading up to a collapse that claimed two lives and injured 29 others, an inquiry heard in Durban on Wednesday.

Ronnie Pillay, a foreman at Gralio Precast, told the labour department inquiry investigating the collapse that one of the slabs at the mall sagged by 70mm.

The inquiry is chaired by the department's occupational health and safety manager Phumudzo Maphaha.

Pillay said the area that ultimately collapsed was to the right of the sagging slab.

"When the foreman brought it to my attention, I stopped work immediately."

He said he then contacted the engineer Andre Ballack and informed him of the problem. He also contacted Gralio owner Jay Singh.

"I told him we have got a serious problem," said Pillay, who admitted he had no formal qualifications.

Pillay said ultimately the instruction was to build two beams under the sagging slab.

Shaft plans altered

He believed that had the supporting columns been bigger the collapse would have been averted and had raised his concerns with Singh. He was later advised these were sufficient.

He had also raised concerns over the design of the lift shaft. These, he said had been accepted and the plans for the shaft were accordingly altered.

Pillay said the slabs had been poured at least 21 days before the scaffolding was removed. He believed the time for the concrete to cure was more than sufficient.

On the day of the collapse, 19 November 2013, scaffolding was being removed. He was on the edge of the slab when "I heard a deep sound".

"Within seconds the entire slab started caving in a hole. I saw it coming towards me."

Two supervisors who were with him fled in the opposite direction.

"I jumped three metres down onto the mezzanine slab. That's how I escaped the fall."

He said he ran through the mall and down to the bottom where he saw many injured workers.

Instructed to keep working

Asked if he was aware that the results of tests conducted on the concrete since the accident had revealed widely varying degrees of strength, he said he had "heard" about the tests.

He said work had been stopped at the site, but an instruction had been given for his team to complete their work.

"I was instructed to carry on working. We were working to finish up the areas we hadn't completed," he said.

He was aware that the company had been fined for building without permission from the eThekwini Metro municipality, but he was not aware of who had paid the admission of guilt fine.

Prashalen Gounder, the brickworks supervisor, said on the day of the accident he was not aware of the safety officer being present.

He had raised concerns with the architect over 10m walls that were built without any support.

The plans were altered to include support for the wall, but it was not the only time that the architect had changed his plans.

"In a space of three months there were 10 different revisions [to the plans]," said Gounder.

The inquiry continues on Thursday.

- SAPA
Read more on:    durban  |  tongaat mall collapse
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

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
16 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Africa: Land of Billionaires!

Find out who are the richest of the richest in Africa!

 
 

Men24.com

Every man should be able to do these three things
Goalkeeper saves five penalties with his FACE!
Hottie of the day: Jesselyn
11 things men don’t know about their clothes

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

24 hour sale – Up to 70% off

Its black Friday, save up to 70% on a wide range of awesome products at kalahari.com. Offers valid while stocks last. T&C’s apply. Shop now!

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Grandiose ideas and plans can trip you up today. Keep things in context and take one step at a time....read more

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.