Singh’s son to face music

2013-12-19 00:00

NO love will be lost when the city seeks to put Durban businessman Jay Singh’s son behind bars on Valentine’s Day.

The eThekwini Metro wants Ravi Jagadasan, Singh’s eldest son, booked for ignoring a court order granted on November 14, compelling him to stop the construction on a R328-million mall in Tongaat. Just five days later a large fragment of the mall collapsed, killing two and injuring 29.

The 40% complete mall, with a price tag of R328 million, did not have any planning permission.

The metro will ask the court that Ravi Jagadasan, the director of Rectangle Property Investments — the company behind the Tongaat mall development — be “sentenced to imprisonment”.

The city, being represented by Berkowitz Cohen Wartski Attorneys, wants both Jagadasan and Rectangle Investments found in “contempt of court” and fined.

In the city’s papers it said the court orders were “deliberately disregarded” by Jagadasan.

And the city’s legal head Nokhana Moerane said she will pursue why the metro has not asked the court to order the demolition of the mall.

The city has denied the claim by Jagadasan in his opposing affidavits against the initial court order granted in November, that they had agreed to a “fast track” process with passing the building plans.

PR consultant Melanie Moodley, hired by Singh after the mall disaster, said they will be opposing all aspects of the council’s motion but would not provide any further details.

Meanwhile, in a confidential report by the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA) completed in July and seen by The Witness, it said another Singh-linked company — Moko Rental Housing Project — was paid twice, totalling R336 million, by the SHRA for constructing of more than 1 200 low-income rental units in Phoenix. The project was run by Singh’s wife, Shireen Annamalay.

Moko was paid first by the SHRA to construct the units and then again when the housing body bought them back earlier this year.

The report found that:

• the payments to Moko were not in compliance with the body’s own social housing regulations;

• Moko had deliberately “deceived” the body by providing erroneous financial information;

• the Phoenix development was not eligible for an institutional grant as the tenants targeted earned in excess of R7 500 per month and should never have been financed in the first place; and

• a lifestyle audit of SHRA officials linked to the payments be undertaken.

According to the report, the houses were built by Woodglaze Trading, also owned by Annamalay. Moko, a non-profit organisation, was set up to manage the rental of the tenants.

Last week SHRA CEO Brian Moholo was suspended but the acting CEO Advocate Seeng Letele said it was not connected to the Moko payments. Moholo could not be reached for comment.

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

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