Tongaat mall builders criticised

2014-06-07 09:13
(Photo: file, Sapa)

(Photo: file, Sapa)

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

Durban - The company building the ill-fated Tongaat Mall outside Durban did not operate in good faith, a commission of inquiry suggested on Friday.

Commission chair Phumudzo Maphaha cited destroyed evidence, a lack of documentation, and unauthorised testing of concrete.

"Somebody needs to give me an explanation why you shift the goalposts from what we have agreed," he told Gralio Precast (Pty) Ltd's lawyer Saleem Khan in Tongaat.

Maphaha heads a three-man commission investigating the collapse of the mall on November 19 last year. Two people were killed and 29 injured.

It emerged on Friday that two columns supporting the concrete slab that collapsed were destroyed at the site by a pneumatic drill (commonly known as a woodpecker) at the end of April.

"The woodpecker has flattened some of the things we wanted to examine," said Maphaha.

It also emerged that Gralio had not provided all the documentation the commission had asked for.

"I'm starting to see a trend. I request a full report. I get seven pages instead of 19 pages," said Maphaha.

Among the documents requested were the results of tests carried by the firm Contest to determine the strength of the concrete used at the mall.

Gralio gave the commission seven pages, but Contest supplied an additional 12. Maphaha pointed out that Gralio only provided the best test results.

The commission heard earlier in the week that the concrete taken from the slabs required a strength of 30 megapascals (MPa).

Maphaha said Gralio only provided the results that were above 30 MPa.

Some results were as low as nine MPa - only strong enough to be the plaster on internal walls.

"You are being economical in all the information you bring," Maphaha told Khan.

Khan said he could not account for the discrepancies but would take instruction from his clients.

On Thursday, the commission heard that 29 samples of concrete were given to Gralio's representatives.


Sixteen of these were tested by Beton-Lab CC in Maphaha's presence.

Khan said the other 13 were tested by the firm Concrete Testing, but not in the presence of a member the commission.

These samples, or "cores", were taken from supporting columns and beams of the mall's debris earlier this year.

On Thursday, Maphaha warned Khan that he would have to rule that evidence had been destroyed.

On Friday, he said Khan handed in Concrete Testing's report which had the results of tests taken from 16 samples, instead of 13.

"Where do the extra three results come from? Somebody has to give me answers. This report has got three samples which were never given," he said.

He asked Khan why Concrete Testing had not told the commission of its test.

When it first sat earlier this year, Maphaha ruled that all testing had to be done in the presence of a member of the commission - and that access to the building site was only allowed with permission from the commission.

Gralio had been informed of this in writing.

Khan said he could not explain the results from Concrete Testing, and it should be called before the commission to explain itself.

Maphaha refused to accept the Concrete Testing report as evidence. He would only make a ruling on its acceptability once one of the company's representatives had been questioned.

Earlier this week, the commission heard that Gralio was fined twice by eThekwini metro municipality's law enforcement officer Lungiswa Cemane.

The fines were for failing to submit building plans and continuing construction despite being served notices to stop.

Gralio is operated by Durban businessman Jay Singh.

The Tongaat Mall development was owned by a company called Rectangle Property Investments CC. Singh's son is the sole member of the close corporation.

Singh's other company, Woodglaze, was accused of fraudulently obtaining R236m from the Social Housing Regulatory Authority by setting up a social housing company, Moko Rental Housing Project, to obtain funds to buy flats from itself.

Read more on:    durban  |  tongaat mall collapse

Join the conversation! 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.
NEXT ON NEWS24X 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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 network.


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.