ANGRY Tongaat residents called Mervyn Reddy an “arrogant liar” who took community members for granted. Reddy, the spokesperson for controversial businessman Jay Singh, was interrogated by community members about the collapse of the Tongaat mall, which left two people dead and 29 injured.
In a community meeting held at the town’s community hall on Thursday evening, Reddy was caught out “lying” about the legitimacy of the construction of the mall. Residents also wanted clarity on media reports that the plans to commence with the construction were not approved by the relevant departments of the eThekwini Metro.
Responding to the issue of the plans, Reddy was adamant that the plans were 99,9 % compliant with the building regulations and the municipal by-laws.
“The plans are 99,9 % compliant with municipal by-laws and the building regulations,” he said.
However, eThekwini manager in the building inspectorate and development management unit Daniels Pentasaib said the construction was not approved. “The earthwork application was submitted, but was not approved. It was never re-submitted. The building plan was never submitted at all,” said Pentasaib.
A court order was issued earlier this month before the accident, instructing Rectangle Property Investments, which is owned by a Singh family member, to stop the building operations at the mall site.
The order was disregarded and the accident followed, killing 25-year-old Zakhiti Nxumalo and Leonard Masuku and injuring 29 people.
Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (Sactwu) representative Nad Govender said Reddy took Tongaat people “for granted”.
“It is sheer arrogance for Mervyn to stand in front of us and lie about the building being approved. He says the plans were 99,9% compliant. Go back and tell your master that your excuses to us are pathetic,” said Govender.
Tongaat Civic Association chairman Jeeva Pillay said the community proposed to have an independent body to investigate the cause of the accident. “Another resolution taken was to campaign against Singh’s companies from receiving government tenders. An independent committee will be set up to inspect the investigation reports into the collapse,” said Pillay.
Commenting on being labelled an arrogant liar, Reddy told Weekend Witness yesterday that he was not concerned about what the people said about him.
“I’m not worried of what people think of me. Those who know me are aware of the role I played in the Phoenix community. I’ve been a community activist for more than 22 years.
“With regards to the municipal officials saying the plans were not approved, I would not have gone to those people if that were the case,” said Reddy.