Mall developer wants Lindiwe Sisulu to apologise for funding claim

Durban businessperson Jay Singh wants Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to apologise for claiming that the ill-fated Tongaat mall was partially financed by her department.

A section of the mall, which was under construction, collapsed in November. A woman was killed and 29 people were injured.

An inquiry into the building collapse was postponed yesterday due to a lack of recording equipment, but Sisulu made the funding claim at an unrelated press conference in Durban on Tuesday.

“I can categorically state that the Tongaat mall was never partly funded by the human settlements department as stated by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu in an interview with the media recently,” Singh’s spokesperson Mervyn Reddy said today.

Sisulu said: “The tragedy about that building is that it was partly funded by myself. I am keenly waiting to see what the outcome of that investigation is. Part of the funding did come from human settlements.”

She did not say how much money the department spent on the mall, or why it was funding a shopping mall.

She was briefing reporters during the sixth Planning Africa Conference.

No comment could be obtained from human settlements spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya.

Singh is chief executive of Gralio Precast, which was building the mall when a portion of it collapsed on November 19 2013.

Singh’s son Ravi Jagadasan is the sole member of Rectangle Property Investments, the developer of the mall.

When he testified on July 24, at the labour department’s inquiry, Jagadasan stated that the mall was privately funded.

Reddy said: “The minister needs to correct her statement and also clarify that her department in no way funded or partly funded the mall at any time.

“Rectangle Property and the developer Gralio’s chief executive, businessperson and philanthropist Mr Jay Singh, seek an apology from Minister Lindiwe Sisulu for the harm and negative publicity that her incorrect statement caused to Mr Jay Singh.”

The inquiry continued today with a visit to the site by the commission. It will sit again on Friday to hear more testimony from design engineer Andre Ballack.

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