Tongaat Mall inquiry gears up

2014-01-30 00:00

THE Department of Labour will soon send out subpoenas for the four-day commission of inquiry into the collapsed Tongaat Mall that is expected to begin next month.

Structural engineers have, according to residents, been on the site commencing “low-level construction work” in an attempt to gather samples.

Currently there are three structural engineers involved — one representing the developer, another for the insurance industry and a third for the Engineering Council of South Africa.

Department of Labour spokespeprson Page Boikanyo said the commission of inquiry will hold the first stage of hearings from February 11 to 14 at the Tongaat municipal offices.

The commission has been given a mandate to investigate concerns and the series of events that led to the tragic collapse of the mall last year.

“Over the next two weeks ahead of the hearings the DoL will proceed in earnest with the process to send out subpoenas as a matter of urgency to the affected stakeholders. The commission is expected to gather its evidence for a period of at least six months,” said Boikanyo.

It is expected 20 to 50 witnesses will be subpoenaed.

She said once the commission has completed its work, a report will be submitted to Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant, the department’s chief inspector Thobile Lamati and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions “for their consideration”.

“The commission is currently consolidating the outstanding reports submitted by various stakeholders who will be expected to be interviewed during the hearing,” said Boikanyo.

The mall collapsed on November 19, injuring 29 and killing two people. A three-storey section, the size of half a soccer field, pancaked while supports were being removed, according to eyewitnesses.

The mall, being built by Rectangle Property Investments, which is owned by Ravi Jagadasan, the son of controversial Durban businessman Jay Singh, was never granted building permission, according to the eThekwini Metro.

The city leadership has since made public its intention to demolish the structure.

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