Tongaat mall always safe - Singh

2015-03-04 14:13
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)

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Durban - Durban businessman Jay Singh on Wednesday told the commission of inquiry investigating the Tongaat Mall collapse that the building site was always safe.

Singh blamed the mall's collapse on 19 November 2013, in which two workers were killed, squarely on design engineer Andre Ballack.

"It was the engineer," he said, when asked by advocate Ian Topping, for the eThekwini Metro municipality, who he thought was responsible.

Topping asked him what he personally did to ensure the building site was safe.

"It was always safe," Singh replied.

"It fell down and killed two people. How can you say it was safe?" Topping retorted.

Apart from the two people killed, another 29 were injured when the mall collapsed.

"Because of your inaction, it led to a situation where the workers were not working in safe conditions," said Topping.

Back to work

Singh admitted that he continued with construction, despite having no written authority from the municipality for the building and the earthworks.

Reading from the minutes of a site meeting which Singh attended in his capacity as chief executive of Gralio Precast (Pty) Ltd - the firm building the mall - Topping revealed it was discussed that the building plans had still not been submitted.

Construction on the mall started in May 2013.

Singh argued they were working from plans for which the previous developer had obtained all necessary municipal approval.

Singh said he merely needed to change the name on the plans, which had already expired, and resubmit them.

"You knew very well that the plans in question are no longer valid and you chose to continue," said labour department occupational health and safety manager Phumudzo Maphaha, who chairs the inquiry.

Read more on:    durban  |  tongaat mall collapse

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